‘Entry into Bollywood now easier through proper channels’

Almost every individual dreams of acting and being watched on screen — but only a handful get the chance to be an actor. Popular casting director Mukesh Chhabra says that as compared to earlier times, entry into filmdom has become easier for people if they go through proper channels.

“I love talent and consider it the most during the casting process. Whether it is ‘Dangal’, ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ or ‘Tubelight’, I have always thought about coming up with new talent. People want to see new faces and we are growing in a positive direction,” Chhabra told IANS on the sidelines of Tata Sky’s “Acting Adda”, an initiative by him and actor Suniel Shetty here.

“It’s not hard to get into Bollywood now as there are proper channels. If you look back, around 10-15 years ago there were no casting directors.

“If you have talent and know your job, then it’s easy for you to get into showbiz. Also, now there are a lot of platforms — films, TV, web series, videos, ads and social media content. So, everybody gets to do something or the other,” he added.

Chhabra, who has given a Bollywood break to actors like Rajkummar Rao and Sushant Singh Rajput, feels that people are now more aware about the entertainment industry thanks to social media.

He said: “Awareness about this industry is more now because of social media. Education about acting is very important. Artistes now look up to showbiz as a serious job, not as time-pass.

“People are more trained and educated here. Now people don’t think like ‘I look good, so I can do acting’. People have understood that it’s a proper job.”

Currently working on 25 films, nine web series and five TV shows, including “Raabta”, “Mom”, “Le Musk”, Sanjay Dutt biopic, “Bareilly Ki Barfi”, “Simran” and “Tubelight”, Chhabra said youngsters don’t consider acting as a “casual job” any more.

“It’s not like, ‘I couldn’t do anything, so started acting’. Now there are proper institutes for training. Not only for actors, but also for directors of photography, directors, scriptwriters, dialogue writers, singers and others… It’s a proper business now,” he said.

“Cinema has changed. Now star power doesn’t sell much. All that works is content. Content is the hero today, and the young talent is ready to take up all the challenges,” he added.

Chhabra said as a casting director, it’s his job to show an actor in different shades.

“Casting directors are meant to break the stereotype for actors. Sometimes actors do say that we don’t want to do a particular role again and again. That’s where we come in. Usually on TV, actresses say no to playing a mother.

“But if a show is running for seven years, then definitely you have to be ready to play all the shades of a character — whether it is daughter, mother or grandmother. Earlier in films, heroines were a little sceptical because if they played a mother, then the audience won’t see them as a heroine any longer.

“But I think that thing has now changed and actresses are taking up challenges,” he added.

Chhabra, who himself has appeared in films like “Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana”, “Rang De Basanti” and “Gangs of Wasseypur – Part 2”, says he is not keen about acting anymore.

“I really don’t want to continue acting. I did acting only because friends asked me to do it. What I love to see is new talent getting a chance to act in films. I will promote that,” Chhabra concluded.

(Sandeep Sharma can be contacted at sandeep.s@ians.in)

By Sandeep Sharma


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