Kavish Sinha says nobody celebrates casting directors: 'Actors forget to mention our names in interviews'
In an interview, casting director Kavish Sinha reveals how he got into the business, started his own company and why it gives him a high to launch new faces.
Casting director Kavish Sinha is both passionate about his profession and the actors he champions for roles. He is behind the casting of some of the fresh faces in Hindi series like Undekhi, Rocket Boys and Mumbai Diaries. (Also read: Nikkhil Advani reveals how Rocket Boys cast was chosen, says 'Jim Sarbh was a given')
In an interview with Hindustan Times, Kavish shares that it was ‘mere serendipity’ that got him into this field. Over the years, he has worked in journalism, advertising and social media marketing before landing on his feet as a casting director with his own company.
He recalled, “I was from an advertising background and I happened to meet Shanoo Sharma, a common friend, who is the head of casting at Yash Raj Films. She is somebody who is constantly working, even when she's chilling. I found that very intriguing. I asked Shanoo, ‘Can I be your assistant?’ And that's how the casting assistantship started. I was almost 30 years old so it was quite late in the day, but having said that, I wanted a career shift.”
After working with Shanoo for a year in 2016, Kavish set up his own company On-My-Kayroll. Luckily, he happened to be at the right place at the right time. He shared, “Fortunately, I entered the business with OTT. Because I had a film background and I had worked on long format before, a lot of web series started coming my way. I casted Lakhon Mein Ek very early in my career. That did really well for Prime Video and from thereon, there was no looking back.”
His knack for recognising faces and the knowledge of his advertising background also helped. Kavish shared that the biggest high he gets is finding a new face to launch. He said, “What else is there in it for us? We don't even get mentions. We don't even get nominations for that matter. In India, nobody celebrates casting directors. There's no recognition otherwise as such. There are so many times actors forget to mention our names in the interviews because we don't hang on the sets. Our job finishes before that so people tend to forget. I don't blame them. It's just out of sight, out of mind kind of thing.”
He continued, “It also stems from the problem of availability of all the known actors. There's so much work out there and barely any actors who have dates these days. It's a big issue that we are facing. It's madness right now because there are multiple shows, feature films happening and people go with seasoned actors only. There's a set of those [same] 70-80 actors who are seen across platforms and formats.”
Kavish and his company want to break that familiarity and look at other newer talents. The casting director lauded the youngsters joining the business these days who are coming in trained in several key aspects including body language. It’s not just about having a good body anymore, the new generation of actors are actually preparing for their craft.
In addition to Indian projects, Kavish also casts for international shows like Slave Market. But he shares that it requires a different style of acting that most in India have moved on from. Kavish explained, “They want Indians to bring that over-the-top-ness to the entire project. They want them to be loud and highly emotional, which fortunately for us, in our country, is not happening anymore. We need more subtlety from actors now. But yes, when international projects come in they do demand that a little bit.”
Sometimes he and his team face a challenge when trying to push across newer talents. Kavish shared that he usually puts his actors on tape and presents them to the directors, letting them decide. He said, “While they would be thinking of a known actor for a certain part, the moment I'll [send] in a fresh face who's performing equally well in that, the directors only let me go for that. [This] transition has happened in the last five-six years, ever since OTT has come into it. Directors are extremely open to new talent, because they also find it their own high. Ek naya bacche ko uthke maine star bana diya (We took a new kid and made them a star). Everybody has obviously vested interest in this.”
He went on to say, “I have also ensured as a casting director that I take new people to my directors. What's the fun otherwise? If they tell me to cast the father and if I get you Pankaj Tripathi, there's no fun in that for me. The director could have done it himself. I'm given one job to do in the world, if I'm not doing that, then I don't see the reason for being in it. I put in a lot of my personal investment in terms of finding a face for a particular character.”
Giving an example of Ajay Devgn’s Rudra, Kavish pushed for a lot of unusual casting for the villains on the Disney+ Hotstar drama. He said, “The actor comes with a lot of range, it's just that we don't explore it much here in our country, because we were always busy with the quintessential casting. Ek mein villain banaya, toh sab mein villain bana do (Once a villain, always a villain). Most of the villains are the best comedians in the country. And vice versa. You have to see beyond the roles, their faces and what they've been doing all this while to create something new.”
On the subject of A-listers and auditions, he revealed that mostly they read with the director. But many are now open to the suggestions the casting team offers. He said, “Even these big actors have understood that this is something that we've not done before and we must test or at least go read with the director so that we also get into the groove of it. The director also wants to read with you once and see if you have understood and interpreted the entire thing. When I say every actor, I'm not talking of the Khans, of course.”
He added, “It's only for their benefit that they come for readings and workshops. It's beautiful how this entire ecosystem is happening and working right now. It's actually very seamless.”
On-My-Kayroll is busy with many different projects lined up for the year including the Pankaj Tripathi-starrer Atal Bihari Bajpayee and Anurag Basu’s Metro… In Dino. He is doing a few projects with Nikkhil Advani's Emmay Entertainment, stating that the filmmaker believes in him the way I believe in him. He also has new seasons of Mumbai Diaries, Undekhi and Duranga coming out later this year.
“This is where I found my calling. I really don't know how long it's going to last because of external factors but I would rather not do anything else than this right now,” he concluded.
- Casting Director