Vandana Bajpai is young, talented and spirited, and encourage the youngsters and new talent in the industry. As a person from the Casting field, Vandana strives hard to take notice of the new talent and give them the platform to unleash their talent. In the process, Vandana has learned a lot and in a candid interview with IWMBuzz.com, she talks of her enriching journey in the TV industry.
How did you get into casting? Was it a line of choice?
“SOMETIMES THE DREAMS THAT COME TRUE, ARE THE DREAMS YOU NEVER EVEN KNEW YOU HAD!!” .Well, it wasn’t a line of choice, but destiny played its part. I had this very weird habit since my childhood of observing people around me and searching a character in them. Being a Mass Media student, when I came across Film and Television making, I got to know about Casting and it just clicked me that this is where I always belong to.
Eventually, I stepped into my dream world when Fireworks Productions gave me the platform to work and showcase my talent. Adityoa Suranna was my Mentor who opened the door of opportunities for me and pushed me forward in handling casting requirements, throwing more spotlight over my abilities.
Being a female casting person, have you ever felt the gender bias? Or has it been a smooth sail?
Being a Female Casting Director I never really faced any issues based on gender bias. Be it from BP Singh Sir, Vijay Shetty sir, Christy Ma’am in Fireworks who never ignored or understated me for my casting abilities. I was given equal consideration as my fellow male colleagues. Also If I mention, working currently with Sonali Jaffar Ma’am and Amir Jaffar Sir, I am always treated well in all aspects. From Fireworks Productions to Full House Media, my journey of 8 years has been a smooth sail for me.
What do you look at in an actor when you cast for a role?
There are literally many factors that I look in an actor while casting. Being production friendly, professional and dedicated actors are of my prime choice as
there has to be a smooth journey with them so that our show does not get hampered in the long run. During audition I always look for a confident actor who has the hunger for that particular character. These are my key things that I always wish while casting an actor for any character or lead role. Most importantly I read the script, and then I try to understand where I can find people as per the script. It is important to comprehend that space where the story originates from. Anyway I believe that India is bursting with talent; you just have to find the right one !
There is a lot going against choice of talent these days, where there is a belief that social following holds a bigger prominence than acting prowess to bag roles. What do you say?
Speaking of my personal experience, I have a twofold perspective on this. Like social following can never overpower acting abilities, where as it can definitely act as a cherry on a cake if he/ she is a very good actor.
For instance, if an actor is very popular on social networking sites but isn’t a good actor, I would never cast, unless the requirement asks for it. But say if an actor is really good with all the criteria that suits my character, and also has a great social following then it will definitely be a plus point. At the end, for better output and good performances, we definitely need good actors in television..
I have personally auditioned many from these social platforms and the response wasn’t that great. I somewhere felt the need to groom them a lot in terms of their acting skills. Actors with great social following, their looks to add to it, definitely catch the eye, but performance usually disappoints.
Do you think Television gives credit to casting people?
A Big NO.
Casting is a vital part of any script/show; if your casting is weak you tend to harm your final product. Earlier casting was to be considered as a prime factor, but maybe these days due to so many co-ordinators coming in business, people
have started taking it lightly. Now see co-ordinators send random options without wearing the glass of a casting director, whereas we as casting directors make sure that our actors fit in the characters. I have a fellow feeling for those Casting Directors who tend to work really hard finding a face for the
show and give good casting, but yet have never received credit for the same. Casting is basically the first step once script is locked and it has been judged as a very easy thing by others, sorry to correct but it is not!
What do you think is your forte or USP being in the casting line?
Since start I have been looking for characters in my actors. The moment I get the script, I create an image and while casting, I try to find the same in my actors and most of the time, I personally work for it as a practice with the actor. When it comes to my USP in casting, I have always believed in giving quality options. I don’t believe in giving too many options because then it just loses the importance of my visualization of a perfect cast.
Tell us about your discoveries in casting when it comes to bringing about new talents?
So let’s talk about my recent discovery that is Pratibha Ranta – lead of our show Qurbaan Hua on Zee TV. She is basically from Shimla; I discovered her through her Instagram profile, and to my surprise I found her contact in my actors’ group. I found her interesting and called her directly for an audition
for our lead character Chahat . Her first audition wasn’t up to our expectation, so I called her again. Personally I did guide her according to our show
brief and when I got my final take, I forwarded it ahead and the rest is history .
How much of a satisfaction do you get in finding new talents?
As mentioned earlier, it has been like my hobby which later turned out to be my profession. Observing and approaching new faces is something I enjoy the most. Scrolling many Instagram and Facebook profiles is also a travel for me and terms of my discoveries of new faces. I directly approach them, some turn up to me and some don’t. Some turn out to be good and some don’t . Also to add here I started my career through episodic shows, so finding new talents has always been a part of me.
What have your learnings been from this industry?
“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”
Being the Casting person, the most important thing I have learned by far is that Casting is always to credit the deprived, be it our own team or actors. We have to always ask for it.
In terms of learning, the craft of Casting is perpetual as we get to meet and work with different actors and Producers, and they all have their own way of working.
So far I strongly felt that casting can’t be done with the help of google baba; you need to step out from your office, you need to walk an extra mile and observe the essence of the place, where your character or story is set-up in, only then you can do justification with the casting of every character. From my experience, I would also like to gift a piece of advice to the growing talents out there, that “if you want to be a good actor ,then don’t consider acting as some random extra-curricular activity. Ignite that passion inside you to achieve the platform you want to reach. Along with your physical appearance, also groom your talent and craft of acting”.
What are your future plans?
I always believe in going with the flow, so as such I do not have any plans, but yes in future I certainly would want to personally train raw and new actors who have the potential but are unable to find their way. I would try to reach as many as I can in terms of acting training or say workshops and bring them under one umbrella so that I can be a small part /help in fulfilling their dreams. Also I get many calls saying that they have registered in modelling agencies but they never get any opportunity, say in small towns there are many kids and
house wives who have so much spark in them but they don’t have anyone to approach to. I would like to mention my email idfor all those talented actors out there – firstname.lastname@example.org