From being a farmer to a casting director, I have come a long way: Sunil Shakya

Sunil Shakya, the casting director behind much famous television shows and film namely Mukti Bhawan, YARO, Ishq Ka Rang Safed amongst others, has come a long way. He recently worked with Creative Eye and now working with Vikram Bhatt for his upcoming web-series.
Wanting to know more about this man, got into a chat with Sunil for our ‘Behind the Lens’ section.
Excerpts from the interview.
How did your journey in this industry begin?
I am a village boy and I belong to a family.of farmers. I have come from a long way. From farming to poultry I have tried everything in life. I did my schooling from a very small school in Rajasthan. Back in time, due to money crises I used to walk without chappals and studied by paying fees of Rs 25.
Here, I have an interesting tale to share. I have been a fan of Bollywood films since my childhood. One day my dad got a VCR and made me watch Karan Arjun and Bandit Queen. After watching those films, I realised that I want to make my career in the entertainment industry.
After completing my engineering, I didn’t know what to do. Along with engineering I used to do theatre It was my hobby.
After giving a big thought I did my mass communication thinking that I will join some channel and continue doing theatre. However, destiny had some different plans for me. One day I received a mail from Idea Box Company who used to make lot of reality shows. They asked me if I can join them as a casting director. That was the one opportunity that changed my life. I started developing my interest in casting. Slowly and steadily I started getting offers from big productions houses to cast for their shows, films and advertisements.
What are the things that you keep in mind before casting for a particular show?
To me acting matters a lot then looks. We have a perfect example of one of the great and celebrated actors in Bollywood – Mr Nawazuddin Siddiqui. He has changed the face of Bollywood. He has altered the mentality of people that only good looking actors can make a hit film. Hence, if an actor can act well then he or she can definitely take the show to another level.
What challenges did you face in this industry?
Every profession has its own share of challenges. Our job gets more difficult when we have to get a look alike of actors. I still remember I had tough time when I had to cast for Aniruddh Dave’s duplicate for one the episodes for YARO.
After a lot of struggle I managed to get one who almost resembled to Aniruddh. The channel was very happy with my work. Also, for my earlier film, Mukti Bhawan I had to cast senior actors who had to be above 50 years of age. But I successfully managed to get actors on board. I believe in one motto – Never give up in life.
Do you watch serials and keep a tab of what is happening in other shows?
Yes, definitely. My current favourite show is Kundali Bhagya and I am looking forward to Anirudh’s (Pathak) sir Prithvi Vallabh on Sony TV. Keeping a tab on shows helps to you to know what is viewer’s likes and dislikes.
The most difficult part of your job?
The most difficult part of my job is finding a suitable face for shows. When everything works out then sometimes the budget and availability doesn’t match up. It is very rare when everything falls into the place.
Have you ever faced any kind of actor tantrums?
Thankfully, I haven’t faced any actor’s tantrums in my entire career. They all have been very good to me.
Your favourite actor and actress that you wish to cast in future?
Well, no one specific or anyone particular that I can think off.
Which show do you think has the best cast?
I think lots of shows have a good cast. My personally favourites are Kundali Bhagya, Prithvi Vallabh, Ishqbaaaz and Kuch Rang Pyaar Ke Aise Bhi.
Who has inspired you in your journey?
Nobody has inspired me. Whatever I have achieved is because of my hard work and my parents’ blessings. My only aim in life is prove myself and establish a mark in the industry. I want to be known for my quality work and positive attitude towards life.
Where do you see yourself after 10 years?
I like to live in present and go with flow.
Tell us little bit about your personal life?
(Smiles) I am happily married man blessed with two boys. In my free time I like to watch movies. One thing I would like to share that I am against the idea of watching newly released movies on phone or laptop. I make sure to watch early morning films in a movie cinema.
Lastly, any message to the inspiring casting directors?
I would like to say that apne kaam se kaam raho. Do your best and leave rest on God.

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