Aspiring actors from all over the world looking to make it big in Bollywood may finally have a chance to realise their dreams. A Hindi film producer has launched India’s first website that accepts applications for roles in films, while giving producers access to the database.
Producer Sunil Bohra, best known for blockbusters such as Gangs of Wasseypur – Part 1 (2012), is hoping to revolutionise the way actors are cast in India with Bombaycasting.com, a recently launched platform that serves as a “talent bank”.
“You don’t need to travel to Bombay, you don’t need to try your luck standing outside a casting director’s office,” says Bohra, whose Mumbai-based production company, Bohra Bros, was founded in 1947 by his grandfather. “Anyone can press a button, film an audition, and send it directly – all free of cost.”
The UAE connection
Indian expats from the UAE are among more than 2,000 applicants who have already uploaded their photos and video clips in the hopes of featuring among the first 100 who will be selected after a “rigorous” screening process. Bohra explains that if there is enough interest from the Emirates, Bombay Casting will open a branch in Dubai. Meanwhile, plans are under way for an office in the United Kingdom because of the large number of enquiries from the country.
Bombay Casting has also invited filmmakers to submit ideas for short films, with plans to fund selected projects on the condition they use actors from the talent bank. The first film commissioned has been proposed by Leading Star Entertainment, a Dubai-based events-management company, which plans to produce it entirely in the UAE.
Come one, come all
Bohra says that actors who make it into the “talent base” will not have to pay fees at any stage.
“It is actually a free ticket to Bollywood,” says Arshad Khan, Bombay Casting’s business head. “The idea is to bring casting to people’s doorsteps. India is such a huge country and the geography and the financial dynamics of the industry are such that the industry is focused in certain areas, such as Bombay, Kolkata, Southern India. But beyond that there is a lot of talent that is hard to access.”
The website has already attracted applications from Indians living in remote areas of the country, says Khan. “You are not at a disadvantage if you have not done anything. We shoot a proper show-reel for you if you are coming from a place where such opportunities do not exist.”
There’s an app for it
All services will be made available on a specially designed app that is scheduled to launch next month. Production houses will be able to list acting jobs and prospective actor profiles will be filtered and forwarded.
What the celebrities say
For a star-studded boost, Bombay Casting has signed up some well-established names in the industry. Actor Prosenjit Chatterjee, who has appeared in numerous Bengali and Hindi films, is one of them. So is Sharad Kelkar, a popular television star.
And several Bollywood icons have endorsed the venture, including A-list filmmaker Karan Johar. “New actors and new acting energies are the need of the hour,” says the director. “Bombaycasting.com is an ingenious way forward to source new talent. Every filmmaker must leverage this platform for the new age of making movies.”