Abhishek Banerjee: Proud of giving Priyanshu Painyuli and Siddhant Chaturvedi their first break

That was the first time I had gone to a film set and I was made to stand in front of such a big director (Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra). You can actually make movies with good actors on a smaller budget and have a better audience connect, like the movies of Hrishikesh Mukherjee or the films of 60s-70s. Then there is Abhimanyu Ray, Honey Trehan, Nandini Srikanth, Shanoo Sharma, we have so many great casting directors who have nothing to do with acting. Did you learn the tricks of being a good actor after becoming a casting director? Everytime I was rejected, I learned where I needed to improve. Becoming a casting director was a part-time job. I was always an actor. Because of my casting background I’ve understood certain things about the scripts. That’s something the lockdown has taught us. Q. I never imagined that one film (Stree) can give you so much love and so many people would want to work with you. It’s always good to play completely opposite roles. Abhishek Banerjee in a still from Rang De Basanti. There’s Helmet. Q. I auditioned for Namit Das’ role in Ghanchakkar and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub’s role in No One Killed Jessica. Q. There will be more interesting stories, not the ones which we’ll forget. That healthy competition between both the mediums should continue so that we get good content. It is almost ready. Since then, he’s been my Dronacharya. (Screengrab/YouTube)
Q. You just need to have a great eye to understand the character. It was important for me to keep on working so that I don’t sit idle. Banerjee’s company, Casting Bay, has done casting for films like Angrezi Medium, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, Bhoot, The Sky Is Pink, Kalank, Street Dancer 3D, Toilet Ek Prem Katha, and Student of the Year 2 apart from web shows Mirzapur, Ghost Stories and Inside Edge. You need to do a lot of that for many years before you want to take up acting. Is there any actor you are proud to have given their big break? Q. What do you remember of your own struggling days as an actor? Here are excerpts from the interaction:
Q. It will be a very united industry because everybody is going through tough times together. Today, so many of those who were part of that audition scene are working as actors like Chandan Roy Sanyal, Tushar Pandey who played Mummy in Chhichhore… You can imagine what a good casting RDB had. Also read: Sharib Hashmi: Today, a hero’s friend isn’t a cliched role
Q. We should all be proud of him for doing such a fabulous job. I used to enjoy cooking a lot during my struggling days and now my skills have improved during this lockdown. That’s when Typewriter came my way. I am also looking for international exposure. They called me to audition for Fakeer, and I found this character very interesting. Having done both web and films, how do you see their future? I start visualising the film just by reading it. (laughs) But I feel he is one of the best casting directors. I’ve been cooking, cleaning and enjoying time with my wife. I’ve learnt all the years I was not acting. Abhishek Banerjee along with Aparshakti Khurana and Rajkummar Rao in a still from Stree. It’s giving more food for thought to the audience and very challenging roles to actors. An actor should be able to convince the audience that he is a real person and not someone who’s been shot. Priyanshu is one actor you should be looking out for. What can you tell us about your cameo in the audition scene of Rang De Basanti? Banerjee, who is starring in web show Paatal Lok on Amazon Prime Video, interacted with fans during a Facebook live from The Indian Express page. That’s when I also saw Hum on Doordarshan and was smitten with Mr Bachchan. (Photo: Abhishek Banerjee/Instagram)
Actor Abhishek Banerjee says becoming a casting director was a part-time job. Which actors have inspired you? How do you see the Bollywood industry changing post coronavirus? I don’t call it struggle, I call it experience. Web and cinema will co-exist, but web has a bright future. What are your upcoming projects? Also I really wanted to work with Sujoy Ghosh. Later, I became fond of Jack Nicolson and Jake Gyllenhaal too. You can call it a male crush! On the sides, we are also casting for a lot of upcoming projects, but most of it is on hold right now. So many actors get confused as to why they did not get the part despite being talented. That tells you there are certain characters which suit you better. We just need to shoot one song. As a casting director, I read a lot of scripts. I always felt if a young Amitabh Bachchan had done Bombay Velvet in today’s time, it would’ve been something else. That’s very important to understand in casting. Q. People will introspect even more. That’s why you don’t need big budget movies now. I watched Extraction because of him and not Chris Hemsworth. Maybe I’ll take it as a serious career sometime in life. I was in Tamil Nadu, and I used to watch a lot of Rajinikanth films. I might want to write sometime but I’m very impatient. In fact, I auditioned for Priyanshu’s part in Extraction too, but he got it and he is not even a Bengali. I’m also very excited about Paatal Lok. Eventually people will understand compassion, they’ll be less selfish and begin to respect their personal time. When you get all these answers you can try your luck here. My mentor Gautam Kishanchandani cannot act to save his life! Banerjee himself has acted in movies including Stree, Dream Girl, and Bala. Why did you choose to play a ruthless character in Mirzapur right after Stree? I’ll always be very proud of giving Priyanshu Painyuli and Siddhant Chaturvedi their first break. Q. Does being a casting director help you in picking the right roles? Both are phenomenal actors and I’m very excited about their future. Any last word of advice to aspiring actors? The actor opened about life post Stree, his cameo in Rang De Basanti, and why he is proud of Priyanshu Painyuli’s job in Extraction. Filmmakers who come from small towns bring their own imagination and thought process about a particular character. Q. Post Stree, I was looking for something interesting. I think it is very important to explore yourself, to understand what cinema does to our society and the real reason of films. Q. We might have lesser crew and take precautions. Because it’s a big unit, people will be careful. So writing is very difficult for me, but I’ll surely try. How’s your life in lockdown? Written by Mimansa Shekhar
| New Delhi |

Published: May 5, 2020 12:35:58 pm

Abhishek Banerjee is currently starring in Amazon Prime Video’s Paatal Lok. 📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. No, I don’t think it is required for casting directors to be actors too. Though I loved Ranbir Kapoor, I think it was a brilliant part and I loved the film. Let’s see how you guys react to it. I’ve always been an Amitabh Bachchan fan. How have small town stories changed Bollywood? Q. It’s all about dreaming, reading and practising. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
For all the latest Entertainment News, download Indian Express App. It helps me understand how important is my character to the script. In fact, I did another Netflix film called Ajji before Mirzapur which is an even darker character. I did Mirzapur before Stree. We are doing e-casting for a project or two through web audition. I think the future is bright. Q. © IE Online Media Services Pvt Ltd


Abhishek Banerjee