We caught up with the casting directors of recently released film Ludo — Trishaan and Shubham — and they shared insights into the whole process of finding the right actor for every role. Their credits include The Lunch Box, Hotel Mumbai, Bose: Dead/Alive and Special Ops.
Ludo has such a diverse cast. From seasoned actors like Pankaj Tripathi and Abhishek Bachchan to emerging stars like Rohit Saraf and Sanya Malhotra, and popular TV actor Asha Negi.
Trishaan: I am sure under the impression that this is a conscious decision keeping in mind the pattern of storytelling it is. To make such a colorful film with different moods and emotions, the cast has to be equally varied.
Shubham: There are films that are driven by stories and characters and then there are some like (Ludo) which captivates the audiences through their narratives and performances. Now, to imagine such diversity in the cast was only imperative.
The authenticity in Ludo's casting was the film's main USP, especially Pearle Maaney's role as a Malayali nurse.
Trishaan: Dada (Anurag Basu) was sure of Pearle from the beginning. We did think of a few more well-known south Indian names but finally went with Pearle.
Shubham: It's always fascinating when you see two characters not speaking the same language but understanding each other's silence. Pearle and Rohit bring a sense of freshness to the film for sure. Since people haven't seen much of her work she surely brought newness to the film.
Another actor that stole the show was Rajkummar Rao.
Trishaan: Dada's film making process is something that seldom anyone knows what is going on in his head. We just needed to surrender to him and so was his choice of Raj to play Alok.
Shubham: Alok alias 'Aloo' is surely my favourite character from the film. We are so glad that Raj came on board and lent his charm to the part.
Rohit and Pearle had amazing chemistry in the movie. Did you audition them together?
Trishaan: They were not tested together and that awkwardness and the nervous energy of two individuals in the presence of a complete stranger is something they banked on. It is so amazing to see both just be.
Shubham: It was a conscious decision not to test them together since dada wanted it to be like that.
When you get a project, do you always know exactly what you are looking for, or do sometimes actors change your mind?
Trishaan: The choice of actors is highly project-dependent. But we do our share of creative improvisation. No matter what the brief is, we try and present tests of actors who really surprised us during their auditions.
Shubham: Technicians, at any given point of time, like to surprise through their craft or to be fascinated by their director's vision which helps them create and source the ideal faces for the projects when it comes to casting directors. There are times when we have seen an actor bringing in a new flavor within the audition and we surely love sharing their ideas.
What is your biggest pet peeve in the audition room?
Shubham: Thank you for asking this question, we surely have a few things to share. For starters, when they don't take the given dress code seriously, forget their lines, and most importantly don't listen to our directions and start directing themselves.
Trishaan: When a time slot is given to an actor with a particular scene for a screen test, few of the better known actors never come prepared and mostly very late. It is a basic rule to be punctual and come to test after learning the lines well.
What is something you wish actors knew going into an audition?
Trishaan: Be open and flexible to directions.
Shubham: Trishan and I, our emails are quite detailed in terms of the synopsis, characterisation, scenes for actors to read. We usually hope that they read them. Enter the audition room with an empty mind, be receptive, and trust the casting director's instructions.
Do past auditions affect your opinion of an actor during their current auditions?
Shubham: I truly believe that an aspiring cook gets better with time if they really want to evolve as a person or as an artist. We've always tested people who were underprepared or not up to the mark in our past auditions. In fact, we have even auditioned people we don't like because our personal perception shouldn't come in our way to test the person.
Trishaan: We always given another chance to every actor. In life, if we have the scope to evolve as a human, so as an actor too.
What are some of the common misconceptions you think actors have about casting directors or auditions in general?
Trishaan; The most common one is the fear actors have of auditions. Actors forget to have fun and be open. It helps us spiritually to audition. Acting is holy and spiritual.
Shubham: We often get a question from most actors saying that we don't often call or remember them for our projects. The thing is, invariably, casting is a requirement based process where a lot of ideas and options are discussed with the director or the makers before the audition process commences. The ones they get excited about are the ones we test and sometimes if we really believe in someone pulling that character off even if the makers don't, we do provide them an opportunity to prove themselves.
How has the whole pandemic situation impacted the process of casting?
Shubham: It surely has slowed down the amount of time it takes to complete a project but it's still not as bad as we thought it was going to be. It's quite surprising how quickly actors have adapted.
Trishaan: The number of projects has suddenly reduced and the one-on-one meetings with actors for an audition have stopped. We are dependent on self-tests and that reduces the pace of the work for all the parties. It helps to meet an actor personally and test.