Mukesh Chhabra’s Casting Company has been prevalent in Bollywood for many years. He has discovered actors like RajKummar Rao, Sushant Singh Rajput, Mrunal Thakur, Fatima Sana Shaikh and many more. No casting of a big production house is complete without him. Mukesh started acting for the first time in Anurag Kashyap’s project. He is currently seen as a journalist in Kafas. The Free Press Journal caught up with him for an exclusive chat.
A still from Kafas |
Opening up about his role in Kafas, Mukesh shares, “I am playing a journalist in it. My character name is Irfan Akhtar who is trying to find out a very big issue and wants to bring it in front of the public. When he gets to know about the incident, he meets the family members, finds out the truth and prints it. There is no manipulation in it. I have tried to maintain the responsibility. It’s an impactful character. Yes, it’s a PR driven industry but in spite of that the media has its own share of responsibility. When I was cast I felt they were fooling me but finally I am here.”
There has always been talk of a certain ‘casting couch’ existing in the film industry for ages. Casting agents weren’t seen in the best light however, Mukesh seems to have added authenticity back to the profession. “I want to give respect to their job. Earlier casting was done even in a coffee shop. I tried to build an institute, started hiring people and formed a company so people feel it’s an authentic job. Before embarking upon the job, I would hear so much about the casting couch being part of casting. I also have sisters in my family. Hearing stories about casting couch would hurt me a lot,” he recalls.
Mukesh adds, “I want people to smile and come into this field rather than keeping a doubt in their minds.”
When asked if he has helped almost eradicate the casting couch, he states, “Yes, I have more responsibilities now. There should be no fear of casting couch in their mind, be it male or female. Establishing an authentic casting company helped to eradicate casting couch fears. However this couch exists in other professions also.”
Mukesh had zero filmy connections when he first started out and now he’s become an ‘insider’. “If an outsider like me can become an insider here, then anybody can become an insider. Look, RajKummar, Kartik Aaryan, everyone is an outsider. All outsiders have made a place for themselves. In fact, outsiders have taken over Bollywood since time immemorial. The industry is run by outsiders and later they become insiders,” he opines.
Mukesh has some huge projects under his belt for casting. “Currently, Anubhav Sinha’s film, Hansal Mehta, Rajkumar Hirani sir’s film Dunki has just completed, Jawan is coming. I just want to keep on working. Once you stop working, people won’t work with you,” he says.
When we probed him about Jawan, he replies, “I can’t talk much about Jawan. There are many characters in it and when you will see the film, as the story unfolds there are new characters. Just wait and watch. It took me around a year to look for its cast. It will be very difficult for me to give the exact number of characters that I have cast in the film.”