It’s a privilege to work with SRK: Piyush Raina

After R Balki’s Ghoomer, Piyush Raina will next be seen in Shah Rukh Khan and Taapsee Pannu starrer, Dunki, helmed by director Rajkumar Hirani.
Piyush Raina (L) with Saiyami Kher on the sets of Ghoomer
Piyush Raina (L) with Saiyami Kher on the sets of Ghoomer

Actor and casting director Piyush Raina is currently garnering accolades for his role in R Balki’s Ghoomer starring alongside Saiyami Kher, Shabana Azmi among others. Piyush is best known for his roles in Bajatey Raho, Dear Dad, Trip to Bhangarh, and his work as a casting director in advertising.

Next up, he will be seen in Shah Rukh Khan and Taapsee Pannu starrer, Dunki, which is helmed by director Rajkumar Hirani.

How did you get the role in Ghoomer?

It was quite a journey. I was in Kashmir for my anniversary when I received a call from Shruti Mahajan’s team. At first I wasn’t sure about making the audition because it was freezing outside . But when I heard it was Balki Sir’s film, nothing else mattered. I made the audition tape somehow and sent it. God was kind and I got selected.

Tell us a little bit about the character

I play Anuj, Saiyami’s brother, in the film. Anuj, well, he’s quite the character. He’s this adorable guy who’s a foodie. He is the biggest cheerleader for his sister, Anina, played by Saiyami. She’s a cricketer and a fitness freak. Let’s just say, with fitness I have a rather long distance relationship.  

How was your experience working with Shabana Azmi?

My experience with Shabana ji was surreal. She is so calm, soothing and impactful. I remember it took me no time to establish a rapport with her because she made me comfortable. I could just see my Dadi in her and have been calling her Dadi ever since.

<em>Piyush Raina with R Balki</em>
Piyush Raina with R Balki

How did you enter Bollywood? Was it as a casting director?

I have been a lover of Hindi cinema and theatre for as long as I can remember. I started doing theatre in my teens and did workshops by NSD. It was the best time of my life. I was involved in production. At that time if you are based in Delhi it was not easy to get work. However, I was fortunate to get selected in a few commercials. In fact, I was shortlisted by the director after watching a commercial. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do that film and it went on to win a national award. It was much later in 2015 that I started out as a casting director.

When did you decide that you want to become an actor?

I wanted to become an actor as long as I can remember. I used to dance to Shammi Kapoor songs when I was six. There was something about the TV screen and theatres that inspired me. After my first stage play in Class 12, I was clear that I want to be an actor.

<em>Piyush Raina with Shabhana Azmi on the sets of Ghoomer</em>
Piyush Raina with Shabhana Azmi on the sets of Ghoomer

Did you take up any particular training for this role in Ghoomer?

I had lost weight just before Ghoomer happened. But this character was a lovable foodie. So, I started relishing food again and embraced the character’s ethos. I had a tough time after the shoot as it was now time to hit the gym.

How different was it from your earlier roles?

For a change I played a character who was unapologetic and loved his food. He didn’t have any body image issues. This was a jovial brother who loves food and enjoys life.

Tell us all about your next with Rajkumar Hirani?  

I am fortunate to be a part of Dunki, that’s all I can say at this point.

Will you be sharing screen space with Shah Rukh Khan? Are you excited or nervous about the project?

King Khan is the king for a reason; it is an experience to meet him; a privilege to work with him and a blessing to have him call you at Mannat. Trust me, no amount of words can justify my love and experience with him. And about the project, I am certain that audience can expect Shah Rukh at his best.

Acting or casting, which do you enjoy the most?

Something for the kitchen, something for the soul. Acting will always be my first love, but casting helped me create a name for myself in this city of dreams. So, it’s like asking a mother to select between her two kids.

How did you get started as a casting director?

After completing my graduation in Journalism and Mass communication from GGSIPU University, Delhi, I was a part of theatre community and was also producing show for Doordarshan Delhi. I was also organising various theatre workshops in schools and colleges.

I was actively involved in theatre and have been fortunate enough to have worked and shared stage with some fabulous theatre actors. So, it started from casting actors for stage productions as well as for DD Television shows. My work was well appreciated by the directors. One thing led to another and to my surprise I received a call for Chrome pictures to work as casting director for one of their advertisements for a leading brand. Now, I am standing with almost 1,200 TV ad casting credits to my name. What a journey it has been!

What are some of the common misconceptions you think actors have about casting directors or auditions in general?

The most common misconception that people have is that we only cast people whom we know. But it has never been the case; it’s always the other way around. Talent and hard work will always win. The other small misconception is that we don’t check our emails but we regularly check emails and even provide actors an opportunity to reach out directly via phone/social media.

As an actor myself, I very well understand what actors go through. So, I make sure that we respect them and help them perform better.

Related Stories

No stories found.