Mukesh Chhabra on the tough year that 2020 was: ‘Lockdown happened, then Sushant happened, Dil Bechara released’

Updated on Dec 18, 2020 07:22 AM IST

Casting director and filmmaker opens up on surviving the turbulent year that was 2020, losing his close friend Sushant Singh Rajput, and his debut film Dil Bechara.

After making his directorial debut with Dil Bechara earlier this year, Mukesh Chhabra says he has no plans to direct immediately.
After making his directorial debut with Dil Bechara earlier this year, Mukesh Chhabra says he has no plans to direct immediately.
BySweta Kaushal

Casting director Mukesh Chhabra has said he has no plans to direct his second film as of now. Earlier this year, his debut film as a director - Dil Bechara - saw a digital-first release. Dil Bechara featured Mukesh’s close friend and late actor Sushant Singh Rajput, who died just a month ahead of the film’s release. 

Mukesh told Hindustan Times in an interview, “I am enjoying the process of casting for all my projects at hand. I am not thinking about directing any film for now,” adding that he may think about it when the right script comes his way. 

Mukesh was extremely affected by the sudden death of Sushant. The actor was found dead in his Mumbai flat in June and the Mumbai Police had declared he died by suicide. However, the CBI is currently probing the cause of the actor’s death.  “The year has been tough. Lockdown happened. Then, Sushant happened. My first film as director, Dil Bechara, released. And now Delhi Crime bagged India’s first International Emmys.  Even The Scam 1992 is getting wide critical acclaim and the way Pratik Gandhi has been appreciated is really rewarding. But I have been through the toughest times,” he said. He added that the lockdown and the ongoing pandemic has taught him to survive with the minimum resources.

 

The casting director takes pride in how his choices worked this year, especially for filmmakers like Richie Mehta (Delhi Crime) and Hansal Mehta (The Scam). “Both Hansal and Richie are same in that way. They never ask for faces, names or stars. It is always about the character and the milieu of the story for them. Aise me mazaa ata hai casting ka (I really enjoy casting in this manner). I know I have worked in such projects where people just want a certain star. But thankfully, now I am in a place where I can do the work that I enjoy. Also, with the digital boom, filmmakers are opening up to smaller venues - artists from small town theatres are now making a mark,” he said.

“Casting as a process is much more than just finalising actors. Auditions, and working with them makes me realise their personality. It is a long process of observation and visualization. The Scam 1992 and The Family Man are the best examples from my projects.” 

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Asked if the proposal to regulate digital content is a welcome one, Mukesh refused to take sides and said, “Kiya hai to kuch soch ke kiya hoga (They must have thought about it if they are doing it). I am sure filmmakers and artists will find a way to express their stories. People will choose accordingly. I am not particularly for or against this.”  

Having worked as assistant casting director, Mukesh got his first independent break in Chintuji. His most remarkable films are Kai Po Che, Super 30, Rockstar, Dangal, Sanju, Tamasha, and Gangs of Wasseypur. He has done the casting for some of the most anticipated upcoming films including Brahmāstra, 83, Atrangi Re, Shaabash Mithu, and Laal Singh Chadda.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sweta Kaushal has 13 years of experience covering Bollywood and regional movies, TV shows, national current affairs and social issues.

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