Neha Singhania is one helluva talented woman! Having worked as a casting director for big ticket shows like Balika Vadhu (Colors), Saraswatichandra (Star Plus), Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Do…Ek Baar Phir (Star Plus), Gangaa (&TV). Chidiyaghar (SAB TV) and a host of other shows, Neha has created a niche for herself in the casting space.
In conversation with Neha, she talks about her journey in the world of casting and the nitty-gritty’s of her profession.
How did you get started as a Casting Director?
I never thought that I would ever choose this profession. I have done my Masters in Journalism and have worked as a reporter with a good number of media houses. Infact, covering crime was my forte. Casting was a different world altogether for me!
I had heard so many things about the casting industry especially about the casting couch among other things. Belonging to a conservative Marwari family, this was something I never imagined I would be able to take up professionally. But I landed here and I am doing well for myself.
I started my career five years ago and I never thought that I’d reach this level without any Godfather or contacts. There were times when I questioned myself that why am I shifting my profession and if I wanted to why did I study journalism? But then I took things in the right stride and kept moving ahead.
What drew you to this profession?
To be honest, I have always been very passionate towards my work. And I wanted to do something which brings me fame. I enjoyed reporting too. During this phase when I was a journalist, I received a call from Sphere Origins and they offered me to join the casting team.
I joined there just to know how they function and what do casting directors actually do. I had no clue about my work but then I started learning and enjoying it. The best part about this profession is that one needs to be interactive with people and I love communicating.
What is the life of a Casting Director like?
The job of a Casting Director is a tough one. I am not talking about Casting Coordinators and other designations. There are a very few people who are Casting Directors and let me tell you, they are the most creative people in the industry.
After a writer scripts his imagination, it is the Casting Director who gives a face to the thought and that would determine a project’s success or failure.
Also, there are so many actors who have hopes and aspirations to be cast in a project in which they would fit in well. There are some character artists who run their homes only by acting. For a Casting Director, a casting call may come at wee hours too and it has to be done on urgent basis.
To succeed in any field of work, one needs to work hard and the taste of that achievement is a different high.
What are the difficulties you face while casting for shows?
It is very important to get the character sketch right. There are a plethora of actors in the industry and it is very important to be careful while casting. Sometimes, the actors do not take feedbacks positively.
Also, I cast for Mere Sai, which currently airs on Sony TV. I auditioned around 30 people for the role and not more because I clearly had in mind how my Sai would look. So while auditioning we keep this factor in mind and when there is a look test, we get a better clarity on the kind of screen presence the actor will create. There are some shows which require new faces. And they cannot meet the parameter of acting. So we look at grooming them at the basic level.
Frankly, a majority of times the best of the actors feel nervous before giving auditions and it is the job of a Casting Director to make them feel comfortable and explain them the character well. I make sure to see what have they understood from the brief and then work on it.
There is just one thing which I personally follow…
I do not believe in open auditions and whenever I am free from my work, I go and sit on the edit to know how my actors are performing. That helps me to get a perspective on whom can I cast for my shows ahead and what genre would they do justice in.
Which character has been most challenging to you in terms of casting?
Well, the character of Sai in Mere Sai has been the most challenging, reason being the show production house I joined for the show had no cast locked for over a year. I think I am fortunate and blessed that things have worked out for me. The first prominent character I cast for was Baija maa played by Toral Rasputra and there was no stopping after that.
What do you have to say about the respect given to Casting Directors in the industry?
There are so many categories in award functions except for casting directors. I think they have a big contribution in the industry and making the projects the success they are. Casting directors are one of the prime reasons why actors win their respective awards. We are the foundation of a project.
Well said Neha!
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