Badhaai Do casting director duo on casting Chum Darang opposite Bhumi Pednekar: ‘Rimjhim was a well-written northeastern character’

Casting director duo Shiv Chauhan and Ashish Khare talk about what went behind the casting of Arunachal’s Chum Darang in the Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar-starrer Badhaai Do. They also open up about their process of casting.

Excerpts from the interview:

What is your process of casting?

Ashish: It depends. When the script comes to us, we understand the director’s vision and share our point of view. There are discussions on what is the director looking for in his characters which includes physicality, feel, the way they talk and more. Every film is treated differently. For example, if the story is based in Bihar and involves a middle class family, then we don’t audition people who look well off. We try to ensure physicality, look and lingo is as local as possible.

Shiv: We look for actors who can be convincing. There are times we need actors who need to know how to dance, and there are times, we need them to be more raw.

How did you think of casting an actor from Northeast India in Badhaai Do?

Ashish: Rimjhim in Badhaai Do was a character from Northeast India on paper. It felt natural for us to cast an actor with northeastern background for a well-written northeastern part. It just made sense to us as we were well aware of the acting scene in Northeast India. We have a National School of Drama (NSD) in Gangtok, and there are several reputed theatre groups run by renowned theatre directors. So, we knew we would find the right actor for that character and we found one too.

Over eight months, we tested 200 to 250 actors across 20 cities in India and Nepal. Chum first auditioned in March 2020. After a lengthy process, Chum was the unanimous choice.

Shiv: For us, casting a northeastern actor was similar to casting a boy or girl from Delhi or Haryana. While finding an actor from south India or any region, all that matters is they fit the character well.

How did you guys get Gulshan Devaiah to play Rajkummar Rao’s love interest in the film?

Shiv and Ashish: It was the genius of our director Harshavardhan Kulkarni to get Gulshan on board. It was a unanimous yes from everyone to have Gulshan as Guru.

Did you face any challenges in casting actors for homosexual characters?

Shiv: Homosexuality is just a part of the film like it is a part of our society. The film is so much more than that. Actors now are more open to explore different characters. They want to be a part of meaningful stories. Art is meant to mirror the society we live in. I think we as a generation are evolving as the art and artiste evolve.

Ashish: Every story comes with its own set of challenges. Apart from just entertainment, films are meant to tell difficult stories. How else would the society evolve if such stories are not told? The actors of today are more open to try new characters, different characters and evolved characters.

How do you guys make sure that actors are not typecast in certain type of roles?

Shiv: The choices of an actor will typecast him or her. While we think about the options for a particular character, we don’t judge the actors by the genre of their previous work. We keep an open mind in trying a particular actor for a genre they haven’t tried before.

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