Piyush Joshi is one amongst the ‘young blood’ who is in demand in both television and movies when it comes to his casting talent. At a young age of 27, he is one of the in-demand Casting Directors in Television, and has a lot to attain in Bollywood too.
In our special Behind the Lens segment, we have a heart-to-heart detailed talk with Piyush.
Tell us about your beginnings in the industry. How did you start your career?
I used to write from my college days; I started my journey from reading Karan Johar’s column in Delhi Times. I got attracted towards films so much that I thought I should move to Mumbai and start my career as film writer. I joined my college theatre society and also worked as an actor with Aamir Raza Hussain in Delhi for few of his plays. I got paid when I used to think theatre will not pay. After pursuing History Honours and completing it, I thought of selling my ‘horror story scripts’ to Ram Gopal Verma and thus started my journey in films. However, slowly and steadily the horror story took a back seat and I became a Casting Director.
There are many into the casting of television. But you are one person who has had a wide experience in the Bollywood industry before getting into TV. Tell us about your work in movies…
I will say it's so far so good till now. Initially I did not have work. I started my first job with ‘Nandini Shreikent’ as an assistant to her. I learned a lot with her in a short span of time -- she made me work on several projects with her in films and TV ads. To name a few Dharma Productions’ Student of the Year, Tasher Desh by Q, Talash etc and this is how my learning started.
How different is the medium of TV when compared to movies. Your thoughts.
In my view, TV and Films both have a different medium, different audience and different reach. You need to keep in mind the taste of the audience and character brief properly when you cast. For movies and serials I keep in mind the USP of an actor. Acting and face value have different roles to play simultaneously. It also depends upon the requirement of the project whether it needs a face or an actor.
How and why did you get into TV as a casting director?
A teacher always wants her student to top the exams and move ahead in life. After working and graduating under Nandini Shrikent, I moved to several big productions as casting director or as head. TV has a wide reach and different audience; casting for TV is altogether a different experience as it's a complete 24/7 job profile. It is a more challenging job in TV as there is very little scope of launching a new face in films. I would say TV producers are better risk takers than film producers. New face easily sells in TV.
What are the various profiles that you have surpassed in your Bollywood / TV career?
I became a casting director at the age of 25. I think I was lucky and hard working enough to be here at this young age. I have worked on Rabba Mai kya Karoon for Sagar Pictures, Devon ke Dev Mahadev for Nikhil Sinha, Balaji Telefilms, Endemol, BBC Worldwide, Bang Bang Films.
How do you go about your work as a casting director?
Casting is a wonderful job. You get to meet so many people every day. But at work front it is a rigorous research of good actors and faces with desired budgets of producers sometimes. You need to constantly search for better options than you already have till you are satisfied and it becomes a choice. Casting is understanding of a casting director about a virtual image of a character he is looking to cast. If he is clear in that the Casting goes perfect. I think as a casting director you need to be sure of what a director or creative is looking into a specific character and must read complete screenplays and stories before casting.
We hear you are also directing a movie. Tell us about that.
I have written a story called ‘Karakters ki Kahani;’, it took me 4 years to complete it. It has almost 55 plus real life people whom I have met and observed. I have tried to inter-relate them and weave them in my story. It's a slice of life contemporary comedy love drama. I have started working on it. I will make a 10 minute trailer or a story liner for pitching it to producers or studios in India and collaborate and make it. This movie will be an experience of a lifetime for everyone.
Which are the TV shows you have worked on as Casting Director?
My TV casting experience is of a very short span as I am too young when compared to others here. I have worked with BBC Worldwide & Lostboy Productions’ ventures. I did cast for Devon ke Dev Mahadev for some time. After that I joined Balaji Telefilms as casting head but that too ended as I just want to concentrate in casting leads and setting up new shows. I am always on good terms with Balaji Telefilms; they have considered me to set up leap leads coming on air shortly .
Tell us about your finds who you have launched when it comes to actors.
I cast semi-known people and fresh people as per character requirements. The latest would be Balaji Telefilms’ Pihu (from Bade Achhe Lagte Hai ), the new one that we will see on air soon. I also cast the present Pihu, Aanchal Munjal.
Rajbir / Nirvaan Singh, who is getting launched by Triangle Films in their upcoming show is also a finding of mine. I had shown him as an option in the beginning of 2013 for a historical show which was supposed to come under Triangle Films. But now they are considering him for a fantasy show. I recommended Nikita Sharma playing the lead girl in the Life OK show. I found Sahil Anand capable and versatile enough for films, he was doing TV when I believed that he is suited for the character in Karan Johar's Student of the Year as Jeet (Varun Dhawan’s friend). As of now, he is doing 3 films as lead. His life took a complete turn from TV to films.
How do you think television industry of today is?
Television industry is growing at a very fast pace. There are so many channels coming up, also new slots have been given for new shows. There is a lot of boom for actors and other creative people to get work.
Do you think casting directors in television gain their due?
Haha, well getting dues and credits have always been a problem with casting guys specially. I think dues should always be paid. It makes a person to work more efficiently if he is praised for his work.
How is Piyush Joshi as a person? Tell us about yourself...
He is a complex person. Always busy in his own world and thoughts.
You have either launched new faces or worked with very experienced faces. What is the thought process that you have when you launch a new face?
That's a real tough situation to be in!! When you are launching a new face the audience acceptance is really a big challenge for any show. The actor should justify his character well, otherwise the show suffers.
What are the prerequisites that you check in the profile of a new face?
The first thing I see is physical appearance and structure of an actor. I then see the actor’s potential by auditioning him/her on the desired script.
New face Or Experience – How will you decide?
Whenever I take up a project I get details of the character, age group, physical features required in an actor to play that role. I start from zero and see profiles one by one from my data. Honestly, it does not matter to me if the person is known or fresh. Whenever I need to scout a fresh face I don't rely on Co-ordinators -- I go on social networking sites as Facebook and Twitter and post my requirements in various groups. The response I get is good.
What are your future goals?
I am casting for the big leap in Balaji Telefilms’ Bade Acche Lagte Hai and Pavitra Rishta now. A film and few new projects are in the pipeline for which I will set up leads.
Simultaneously I am working on my film; I have casted for most of the characters and I am working with good known actors. I am still scouting for 3 fresh faces (girls) and a boy (around 18-25 years).
Any producer that you wish to work with, either in television or movies?
Karan Johar would be my blind choice if given a chance to work again. I have worked with all major productions and I know the internal system of work atmosphere and people; I really found Dharma Productions to have the best working value system and also they know how to keep employees happy.
I worked as an associate with him in Student of the Year’s casting. After that I really want to work on a good big project with them again.
How do you see the future of Indian movies, as you have closely worked in movies too?
I have read a lot about Hollywood Studio and World Independent film makers. I find we all follow almost similar pattern of rules to make movies and distribute them.
My research in reading books on films were majorly on how the in-flow and out-flow of money works. There are 56 rights a producer can tap while making a film, but in India we are only aware of 5 rights which I think most of the people who work for films will be unaware of. We are on the verge of seeing many independent films in future without studio or big banners backing them up and they will do well. I like films from all genres. I amTarantino follower, as he has changed the way the studio used to work in Hollywood. His works have fantastic storytelling. I like Steven Spielberg and James Cameroon. It is a stunning figure as Indian films contribution to world cinema is just 0.87 % when compared to 44 % from American films and 14 % from Japanese Cinema.
I personally believe comedy has a longer life; if I am asked to see Andaaz Apna Apna I can watch it again and again. But this does not happen with every movie.
Who do you consider your inspiration or idol when it comes to work?
I am inspired by so many people who are great storytellers. Raj Kapoor Ji , Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bhardwaj, Ayaan Mukherjee, Farhan Akhtar, Rohit Shetty, Raj Kumar Santoshi, Raj Kumar Hirani, Anurag Basu and Shah Rukh Khan are few of them.
What have you learnt from life’s teachings so far?
I love taking risks in life; until you risk something you don't win.