Casting must move beyond concentrating on only the looks of an actor - Casting Director Praveen Tyagi

 Casting Director Praveen Tyagi

Praveen Tyagi, a computer engineer with a MBA Marketing degree from the Pune University comes from a family that bears no roots whatsoever in the entertainment industry. After working in a Media Sales job with Times of India group, Praveen worked at various media organizations like Sandesh Group, Deccan Herald, Prajavani group etc. Post his 10 years stint in the media sales profile, the man got into the casting and talent management line along with good friend Nitin Jain. Together, they formed the talent management organization, Talent Hatz Entertainment. From then on, there has been no looking back.

Praveen has been working as the freelance Casting Director on many projects, including both reality and fiction shows. The shows include Splitsvilla, Truth Love Cash, Captain Shack, Chat House, and in fiction Pyaar Kii Yeh Ek Kahaani, Sadda Haq, Yeh Hai Aashiqui, Veera. He has also worked on various shows for Star Plus being with the channel’s casting team. Praveen has casted for various shows of Saregama, Rashmi Sharma Productions, Idea Hub, Miloni Pictures etc. Currently he casts for Savdhan India and is also working on a couple of upcoming shows for major GECs.

In an exclusive chit-chat, Praveen Tyagi discusses about the priorities and limitations of a casting director, his journey in the industry and his ultimate goals.

In spite of being an engineer, why did you become a Casting Director?

I come from a very conservative family where education is given the first priority. Hence I was always inclined towards studies. Having said this, I always had this secret desire to get associated with the Entertainment Industry. Until a certain age, I was indecisive as to what I exactly wanted to do with regards to the entertainment world. But I was very certain that I do not want to be an actor. Slowly I started realising that I have a knack of understanding people, personalities and characters. That’s when I decided that I would certainly want to be a Casting Director.

So how has your journey as CD been so far?

I have always loved my job as a Casting Director. Hence I am always happy in my casting space. I would not say that I have achieved a lot as a casting director yet, but yes…. aspirations are huge and expectations are large. I started casting roughly 6 years back from Pune. I started off from small assignments like events etc. Then I went on to start my own talent management firm called Talent Hatz Entertainment. I started Talent Hatz Entertainment with the aim of providing the right talent to the industry at optimum cost. Thereafter, I have been casting for a lot of stuff like ad films, prints, TV shows – fiction as well as reality. So yes, all I can say is that the journey till now has been an extremely satisfying one.

What according to you are the few things that the casting industry needs to evolve in?

Quite a few actually. Firstly casting needs to start right from day one of the project conceptualisation. Also casting (specially in TV industry) must move beyond concentrating on only the looks of an actor. I feel that a lot of psycho analysis of an actor also must be done as a part of the screening process. This will ensure finding a better fit of actors. Also casting as a department must be looked at much more seriously.

Do you feel that casting directors in TV are given their due place?

Unfortunately, no!! At least that’s what I can say about television. There are few things I feel that casting directors lag in as far as getting due credit and authority is concerned. Firstly, I do not understand the inhibition towards giving opening title credits to casting directors in serials. I mean c’mon guys… If costume designers, production team, stylists etc can get credits, then why not casting directors. I feel it is totally unfair to ignore the casting department. Also I feel that casting directors need to have a little more exposure as far as channel interactions are concerned. This will help bring both the parties on a common platform. As far as films are concerned, yes… I feel films have given due credits to the casting department, especially in the recent times.

What according to you makes for a perfect casting director?

Knack of understanding characters, the right database, the right connect, ability to negotiate well, must be a perfect judge of people.

Where do you see the casting industry moving towards?

It has a huge scope in the coming times, especially since TV and films are looking for fresh casting every now and then. Also episodics have started to emerge big time. Hence the role of a casting director will be much more prominent in the times to come. Also web and internet based content will create huge opportunities.

How do you select an actor?

I sit for a detailed reading on the story and character brief from the creative department. Once I understand the brief, I mentally sketch out each character. Once that is done, I draw out references of the looks and behavioural pattern. Then from the current database, I pull out the shortlists and call them for an audition… Also I use my industry network to optimise the number of walk-ins for the auditions. Once the audition is done, based on the character brief, I shortlist the best possible candidates which are further discussed and selected.

Any advice to actors as regards casting?

Please go for as many auditions as possible. Work on your acting skills as well as your packaging. Also please try to understand the character sketch. Ask questions and probe about the character. Do not believe on rumours.

What are your aspirations for the future?

To be the best in the field of casting, as regards movies and TV. To have a strong network of fellow casting directors so that we can mutually help each other grow.

Who have been your pillars of support?

Well, I would specially like to make a mention of my wife (Anju), best friend (Shaiju Mathew), my family and friends for being there as a pillar of strength and a support system during my thick and thin.

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