Casting director Mukesh Chhabra is making waves with his selection of actors. He emerged on the scene with Gangs of Wasseypur and is now one of the most sought after casting directors in Bollywood. Parth Bhalerao, who has managed to hold his own in front of Amitabh Bachchan, is also his find. “I saw him in Killa, the Marathi film which is being appreciated in film festivals across the world. He has a small role in the film but I liked his screen presence and flair. While casting kids you should keep in mind that you don’t make them act. I don’t like repeating child actors. Usually, after a film or two, sameness sets in and they start sounding irritating. It is not good for their psychological make-up as well,” says Chhabra, who also found the kids that featured in Chillar Party. Chhabra, who is now one of judges on NDTV-Prime’s reality show, Ticket to Bollywood, says there is demand for fresh faces in Bollywood. “These days stock character artistes complain that I am making them jobless by introducing fresh faces with every film,” says Chhabra in reference to Highway where the gang members of Randeep Hooda sounded more authentic than Hooda himself. “It is creating a healthy competition where the star also wants to work harder to sound as part of the group,” says Chhabra, who taught at Theatre in Education Company in Delhi before moving to Mumbai.

Boys are back

Band of Boys which emerged on the Indie pop scene with “Meri Neend” more than a decade back, faded out like many of their contemporaries. Helmed by Sudhanshu Pandey, it had Karan Oberoi, Sherrin Varghese, Siddharth Haldipur and Chaitnya Bhosale. They released three albums, composed music for a couple of Hindi films and even starred in a film called Kiss Kis Ko but somehow they could not sustain themselves in the highly Bollywoodised music scene.

Now they are back with a tongue-in-cheek number, which is a satire on the political scene. “Don’t do the ungli, just get the ungli”, it urges you to vote. Joining them on vocals is Shibani Kashyap, and the video features Ritesh Sidwani, Arbaaz Khan, Mini Mathur, Prachi Desai and Sonu Sood. The song is a catchy, up-beat number that urges you to not sit back and be happy with what the government doles out to you, and to be a part of the change. It also comments on political faux pas, with comments about how not eating chowmein can bring down the incidents of rape.

Tribute to De Niro

Anupam Kher’s short film I Went Shopping For Robert De Niro will be premiered at this year’s IIFA Awards in the US. Through the film, Kher has paid tribute to iconic Hollywood actor Robert De Niro, his co-star from the Oscar nominated film Silver Linings Playbook. The film’s writer and main actor, Shivangi Kshirsagar, who actually did go shopping for De Niro, portrays the role of the girl who goes shopping for De Niro in the short-film. Kshirsagar has tried to best represent what she has seen of De Niro’s work in the 29-minute short film.

Kher says, “The film has had an exciting journey which came a sort of full circle for us on 10th November, 2013, when Mr. De Niro visited our (acting) school and met the team. It was a very special occasion and I invited some prominent actors and directors from the Indian film industry to meet him. It was fun to watch some of our biggest stars sit around him – like students who crowd around their guru – while De Niro patiently answered questions about his work, characters, scripts, co-actors, his films, his associations with filmmakers, etc.”

All substance

If there is one actor whose ad films create as much ripples as his films, it is Irrfan. Right from Vodafone days, Irrfan’s ad films manage to cut through the clutter. A few days ago, he returned with the ad film for a deodorant brand where like his on screen image he doesn’t believe in shallow pomposity hawabaazi but substance. It goes with the brand which says that the deodorant bottle has no air only cologne. Last week a soft drink brand roped in Irrfan. He plays an officer who wants everything done according to procedure but the moment he enters his home he finds his family celebrating college video of his where he is dancing. And Irrfan surprises when he relents, moonwalks and breaks into an impromptu dance. There seems to be a reason for this step.

Last year he told this journalist that one thing that worries him is that he should not fall into an image. Age is not on his side and that is one of the reasons that he lost out on Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Now the two are joining hands again for The Bengali Detective, where he is playing a snoop, who wants to learn to dance. Mira was apparently unsure about his dancing skills but by showcasing his skills in the ad, Irrfan has put all doubts to rest.