Weekends are always very busy for actors who have a full-time day job. It’s the only two days they get where they can dedicate their entire 12-14 hours during the day for audition hunt! This weekend I decided to leave no stone unturned. I went to each and every audition place in this part of the city to make sure I made full use of the two precious days. It turned out to be quite a roller coaster ride.
I started with 106, Aram Nagar where I was sent by a casting agency for a Karbon mobile ad. It was the most horrible audition space I had ever seen. The narrow lanes of Aram Nagar are clustered and have hardly enough space for three people to walk together. To top it, the bungalow where the audition was being held had a narropw entrance that led to a small room filled with film reels (old, rusted film reels actually).
There was a fan that did not help at all. It was 2 in the afternoon and everybody was sweating profusely which reminds me that there were 24 of us in this waiting room outside the audition room. This room led to another room inside where the audition was being held. I did not get to see the audition room. You know why?? After waiting there for 2 hours and 20 minutes, sweating in the heat, awaiting my turn, the casting director came out and told me “Come tomorrow and carry a pair of formals with you!”. This is the same director who had come out several times in the past 2 hours and had seen me waiting for my turn. Had he said it then, it would have saved a lot of my time. However, I can’t do much about it, can I?? So I thanked him and I left. There are a couple of other audition places in Aram Nagar that were very close to this place – Studio 2000, Channel 9, Anurag Kashyap’s office. I went to all of these places and found out that either there are no auditions or that I am not fit (Rajnigandha pan masala – Studio 2000). So I left to go to a different area altogether – 4 Bungalows – RTO lane.
I went first to Studio Elle where they were auditioning for a Dominos ad. I was NOT FIT again. I then went to Studio 77 where I saw my friend Punit Batra waiting for his turn. This is one thing that I have noticed at a lot of auditions. You make a lot of friends and you always bump into them at all the other auditions. It’s quite strange because these are your friends and in a way you are also competing with them to get the part you are fighting for! Anyway, so I was happy to see Batra there whom I informed about the Aram Nagar Karbon mobile ad and asked him to give it a shot. I also met Ashish here for the first time. Ashish plays ‘Zeeshan’ in the TV series Kya Mast Hai Life on Disney. Zeeshan happens to be Zenia’s twin brother – Zenia played by my friend Shweta Tripathi! That’s how I started talking to Ashish. He came across as a sweet, intelligent actor who will eventually make his mark In the TV world and will move to greener pastures then! I think he is already doing pretty well because I (who does not watch too much of TV) have already seen him in some ads and in this TV series. Here’s wishing him all the best!! Anyway, with regard to the audition – I was NOT FIT again! I then went to another studio nearby – Studio 7000. They were auditioning for an English corporate film for which I was NOT FIT as I was too young.
After 4 bungalows, there was just one more place to go to – Oshiwara Link plaza – more commonly known as Shreeji (the restaurant on the ground floor of the building). This is where I lost it a bit. Here’s what happened – On the 2nd floor, studio Nirvana, they were casting for an ICICI ad. There were close to 30 people waiting outside the studio. I went and wrote my name on the Cue sheet (a sheet which registers your name so that people can be sent inside in the order in which they came). I was number 36. They told me that people till number 20 are already in. So, I waited for my turn. It was 5.20 pm then. At about 5.30, the casting director called out the next few people. The list stopped at number 34 (Noooooooooooo!!!!! 😦 😦 😦 ) and the rest were asked to wait for their turn. After this the door did not open for a long long time. There were girls entering the room from the back door and also some other more popular actors given entry from behind. But this front door did not open until 7.20pm. At 7.20pm, the casting director said that they are taking a tea break and would take 10 more minutes. The door opened at 7.45pm and I was let in with the next batch of people. Now, this was nothing unusual. Waiting outside audition halls for 2.5 to 3 hours (or more) is something that almost every aspiring actor (including me) has done several times. However, given the history of other events in the day, I was a bit frustrated and angry about the fact that other people were given an entry from behind while I was waiting for my turn here for almost 3 hours. I decided I will speak up. So when it was my turn to face the camera, I was asked to give my introduction, number and profiles. Here is what I said – “Hi, My name is Dilip Merala. I have been waiting outside for the past 3 hours and so I might look a bit frustrated. Forgive me for that. My aim is to become one of those important personalities who are given entry from the back door. Here are my profiles!”(followed by the routine left right turn for profile capture). The cameraman told me that I should introduce myself and not the studio. After a minor argument, they decided to keep the same introduction without going for a retake. I then performed the part of the audition (guy giving directions for an address with ICICI as a landmark). Towards the end they told me, there are people who wait for their turn an entire day and I told them I know that but I still wanted to speak out. They said they can just delete my entire take if they want. I said if it’s in my destiny, the take will be deleted and I can’t do much about it. But I wanted to speak up.
As heroic as this may sound, this was a bad move. Not because it could cost me the audition, not because it will spoil my rapport with people involved, but because I thought there was nothing the cameraman or the casting director could have done about this. They were doing their job of auditioning people according to the Cue sheet. They had to entertain the occasional “IMPORTANT PERSONALITY” and girls because that’s how the industry works. Why would they want to empathize with those standing outside when they know they have so many options??My intention was not to be rude to anyone – that’s the last thing I would want!! My intention was to make a point – I will soon be one of those treated specially!! However, I don’t think that’s how it came across. So I made it a point to return the next day and apologize to the casting guy and the cameraman.
The next day started with the Karbon mobile ad for which I was no.15 on the Cue sheet. I reached there at 1.15pm and was done by 2.15pm! I then went to a TV audition – Care World TV (opposite City Mall in Andheri West) was auditioning for a new series so I decided to give it a try. I auditioned for the part of a frustrated salesman whose personal life is going through the rocks. The audition went pretty well I thought!
I then went to Shreeji and apologized to the crew from the previous day’s audition. They smiled and said “It’s alright!” I don’t know what they must have said after I left, but I felt much better! I met Naveen here after quite a few days. Naveen is my co-actor in a couple of plays and has also assisted in Love Sex aur Dhoka and Jashn. He is the guy looking for his boxers in one of the Tata Docomo ads!! 😀 He had left for Delhi a few days ago due to some health issues. It was great to see him hale and hearty and raring to go once again!! 🙂
After this I went to Elle and Studio 77 again to check if there was something new going on there but there wasn’t! I am now back to home sweet home!! As I write this post, I feel I have learnt something new, given some good auditions, grown as an actor as every new experience and observation adds to an actor’s encyclopaedia!! 😀
I am not going to get too much time to do this audition hunt thingy from next weekend as theatre rehearsals for Shit happens and some other plays will resume by then. However, I’ll try and be at these places whenever I get any free time so that I can keep all options open! If I don’t get the time, I’ll make time!! Haha 😀 😀
Sorry about this very very very long post guys..there was so much to say!! Hope you all keep reading!!
Lots of love…