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Set against the backdrop of the Sino-Indian war of 1962, Tubelight is the story of two brothers, played by Salman Khan and Sohail Khan, caught in extraordinary circumstances. The film has a large cast that includes child actor Matin Rey Tangu and Chinese actress Zhu Zhu in pivotal roles. Casting director Mukesh Chhabra, who has previously worked wonders with films like Dangal (2016), Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015), Haider (2014) and Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), tells us about visiting the villages of Arunachal Pradesh to find actors for Tubelight.
CASTING CHINESE ACTORS
I always believe that casting is not a formula, be it a Chinese actor or an Indian actor. When you’re casting for a film like Tubelight, you have the liberty to cast an actor from China, otherwise when you don’t have a budget then you need to find talent locally and compromise on your casting. It makes a big difference. The process in China is similar to the one here. We contacted many agencies as well as actors there and got the auditions going.
WORKING WITH CHILD ACTORS
I used to teach children in Theatre In Education company at National School of Drama and I get really excited about working with children till today. It was an interesting experience going to schools in small villages of Arunachal Pradesh. Once you have done so many films, the teachers and parents had certain respect and trust, letting us take auditions of the children. We found Matin (Rey Tangu) in Itanagar. After which we trained him through workshops to prepare him for the shoot.
WHY ACTING WORKSHOPS MATTER
You can’t really decide whether an actor will be suitable for a role in 5 minutes, so it’s always good to do a workshop and see how they are performing. I am doing the casting for a lot of films even now, so doing these workshops before considering them for a role helps to groom and train them.
For children, it’s always better to have workshops because they are completely untrained and have no idea how things work on a film set. We have to make them comfortable with the media attention and train them before putting them in front of the camera.
TOUGHEST PARTS TO CAST TILL DATE
The four girls in Dangal were very difficult to cast because they had to be good actors, look similar, and give us the commitment of one year. Hence, it took me a year to find the right people.
My personal favourite characters that have stayed with me are Pankaj Tripathi in Gangs of Wasseypur and Masaan and Rajkummar Rao in Shahid.