Having cast over 42 shows in a wide span of seven and a half years, winner of MTV Splitsvilla Season 3, Parag Chadha is one of the finest casting directors of Bollywood and television world. He is multi-faceted! He follows his passion of acting through various episodics and lives his dream of casting with grace as he definitely has a very different approach to his profession.
And one would clearly recognise his talent as he brought a fine cast for Discovery JEET’s upcoming show, Gabru. Let’s get an insight into his life and the world of Casting.
Please highlight your journey on Television.
Well, it has been a year that I have acted but I have done tons of episodic shows in the likes of Yeh Hai Aashiqui (Lost Boy Productions), Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya (Lost Boy Productions), Love By Chance (BOLT Media Limited), Halla Bol (Big Productions) among many other shows.
I even won Splitsvilla 3 back then. Post this; I opened a casting agency called BWT through which I have set up a number of shows such as Jamai raja (Grazing Goat Pictures), Tamanna (Ramesh Deo Productions), Dilli Wali Thakur Gurls (Cinevistaas Limited), Nadaniyaan (Creative Eye Limited), Har Mushkil Ka Hal Akbar Birbal (Triangle Film Company) and many more.
I still act but only when I get time and if something interesting comes my way.
You have won a reality show post which you shot for episodic shows as an actor and now casting. How did you land up from acting to casting?
The whole point of me choosing casting as a profession is because in acting, we don’t shoot for entire 30 days. There may be a lax period and I did not want to keep while away my time.
My first job in the casting world was with Yash Raj Films wherein I worked on a lot of projects including Band Baaja Baarat, Ladies V/s Ricky Behl, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, Ishqzaade, Ek Tha Tiger among others. In a span of one year, I worked on eight projects under Shanoo Sharma.
I then opened my own company – BWT which is seven and a half years old now. I initially cast for films such as Rabba Mein Kya Karu with Arshad Warsi, Ishq Actually and some other projects. My first TV project was Airlines where Tulip Joshi was introduced for the first time. We have set up 42 shows in this span with major production houses.
Wasn’t acting your first priority?
My career was set in a way before I moved to Mumbai. I was supposed to do a show for MTV where on winning it, I would get a chance to host the same show along with the prize money. But unfortunately, that show never happened. I was disappointed, so I decided to get a job somewhere as there is not a certainty of getting work all the time. I also opened a restaurant last year.
Acting is my passion but gradually when I moved towards casting, the profession really excited me. I never thought I’d get into casting. I consulted a few friends and they suggested that there is no better alternate profession than casting as it also helps one improve his/her acting skills. I like the idea of acting but for me, casting comes as a priority.
We are sure you would have a different approach to casting actors as you have been on the other side of the camera as well…
I feel that is the reason the company is a success today.
Each and every production house knows us by name today. Actors are all the same, but it is all about getting the performance out of them. What we do is, we present faces to the director and creatives before auditions and this is how we organise our data too. And we call the shortlisted faces for audition. By this, we get an idea of what the production house is looking for and save time as well.
Also, I have been there done that. I have waited for hours and hours for my turn in the audition queue and by the time I was called, I was exhausted. There is a possibility that it is not just their day! So we make sure to work on their performance after they are selected as the first take can be horrible.
Mukesh Chhabra has taken over the TV casting and the industry is not very happy about it. Your viewpoint.
Mukesh has done tons of films for me to say anything but all I want to say is that a show may not be a dream project for a Casting Director but it is for a producer, even if it is a small project. So everything has to be taken seriously as in films you have the resources for everything if it is a big budget but that is not the case with TV.
Casting for shows in a fixed budget is not easy. Especially historic shows as we cannot get commercial actors on board. Performing in a historic show is not everybody’s cup of tea. When I cast for Akbar Birbal, I’ve had people reading the script and running away!
However TV is a stable medium.
Which of the current TV shows would you applaud for its casting?
Well I have handled the casting for Anand Tiwari’s upcoming project, Gabru. I’ve had challenge with this one as the producers were looking for experienced actors. They did provide me a budget but to convince actors to play a small part, when they are looking forward to play lead roles wasn’t easy.
A tip for aspirants.
A lot of boys trained under me and are now individually working as well. They have cast me for various episodics and all I want to say and which the people who have ever been associated with BWT would tell you is that this is a serious profession and everyone should act responsibly. I have read a lot of news about them misusing their post which is unethical.
Well said Parag!