By Ahana Bhattacharya
Mumbai, May 29 (IANS) Paragg Mehta, the casting director of Netflix’s latest horror series “Betaal”, claims he had spooky experiences while auditioning for the show!
“I still remember a spooky thing that happened at my office. It was evening, a bit dark outside when we had scheduled Aahana Kumra’s auditions for ‘Betaal’ at our office. I, along with my team and the entire setup were ready to roll and record, but when we started, the lights suddenly went off. My team checked with the security downstairs and learnt that the whole building’s electricity was gone. It came back within a few minutes, so we planned to start again. But once again it went off, and it was all dark. We couldn’t see each other. This happened three times and later when electricity resumed, all the air conditioners in the rooms stopped working. We finally decided to audition Aahana at her place,” Paragg told IANS.
The casting director says he found the incident scary! “I don’t believe in ghosts but, yes, this incident scared me! Now, I am smiling as I recall the experience but at that moment I got really scared,” he pointed out.
Paragg began his career as a casting director with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela” in 2013. So far, he worked in over 48 projects, which includes 32 movies. How easy or difficult was the process of casting for “Betaal”?
“It was really difficult, as we were getting into the new world of zombie thriller. We had to cast actors who were physically fit and whose looks are very close to the characters in script. So, for this we had conducted auditions at different parts of India — Bhopal, Lucknow, Ranchi, Banaras, Allahabad, Kolkata, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Delhi to name few. We tested more than 500 people for different characters,” informed Paragg.
He further revealed that actress Aahana Kumra was auditioned five times in different costumes, while he calls actress Manjiri Pupala a good discovery.
“We tested Aahana Kumra almost five times visualising her character in different costumes during our costume trials and then we zeroed down on her part. Our find Manjiri Pupala will be the find of series, and I would say this was most difficult casting of the whole series,” felt the casting director.
Currently, Paragg is working on upcoming projects like Pavan Kirpalani’s “Bhoot Police” and the Akshay Kumar starrer “Laxmmi Bomb” among others.
Written and directed by Patrick Graham, “Betaal” stars Viineet Kumar Singh, Aahana Kumra, Suchitra Pillai, Jitendra Joshi, Siddharth Menon and Manjiri Pupala in key roles. The zombie thriller series, produced by Red Chillies Entertainment, and it streams on Netflix.