Meet the casting team behind the upcoming horror flick Pari
Spotting a face that’s talented and best suits the role, is a skill that comes with years of practice. While legendary filmmakers such as Raj Kapoor, Subhash Ghai, JP Dutta and others have been credited with launching newcomers who went on to become superstars, today, the task of finding such talent rests with casting directors. A new breed of professionals, these young people scout for actors not just in cities, but in the remotest of towns. The duo from Casting Bay, Anmol Ahuja and Abhishek Banerjee, is among the up-and-coming casting directors in Bollywood who are changing the paradigm.
The duo’s upcoming project Pari, starring Anushka Sharma, has been in the news for its impressive first look. Talking about casting for this film, Abhishek says, “The look of characters had to have the right balance of reality and eeriness at the same time. Whatever the makeup, the core element we were looking for was good acting skills.” In recent times, Casting Bay has also worked on films such as Toilet Ek Prem Katha. While there were known faces who played key characters, there were quite a few new faces in the supporting cast.
Last year, one of their biggest projects that became a hit was, Secret Superstar. The child artistes in this film were all scouted for by the Casting Bay team. Talking about how critical it is to spot talent, Anmol explains, “Earlier, if you looked good, you could become an actor. But today, it’s not all about pretty faces. We are out there to find actors who fit the characters because the audience has started rejecting non-actors. We first understand the character sketch, the language of the character and only then, we start looking for people from different cities.... Our first point of contact is usually theatre groups.”
Even though the process of selecting actors be it for lead roles or character roles appears to be transparent and based purely on talent, there are a few perils of the industry that continue to exist. The ‘casting couch’ is something that is still spoken about in hushed tones. But Anmol says things have certainly changed with casting directors taking charge.“I am sure it exists, but I would rather call it an exploiter’s couch.
With professionals and a newer generation, like us, coming in, it’s in our hands to make the environment more safe. I ask people to raise an alarm whenever there is a predator who is crossing the line. Giving any favours will not land you a job or a role. It’s always on the basis of your talent,” he explains. While the two are busy with big projects this year, they are looking forward to a spate of releases they have worked on such as Arjun Patiala starring Diljit Dosanjh, Shiddat by Dharma Productions, Batti Gul Meter Chalu starring Shahid Kapoor and Student of the Year 2.