Mumbai: Sohail Siddiqui is one of the renowned names in the entertainment industry, who started his career by working as an acting teacher and then became a full-fledged casting director. With over 20 years of journey, he has found his niche in the field of casting. In a short span of four years, Sohail has started his own casting agency, which is doing well in the field of television and films.
In an exclusive conversation with business degree, he spoke about his journey, “I started as an acting teacher. I have taught many known actors, who were struggling at that time. There was emptiness within me; I wanted to do more. So I joined a production house as a production head. I made many shows – big and iconic. From production head I became a creative director. It was a long journey. I have also done Marathi, Hindi and Oriya films. Thereafter, I entered into the profession of casting.”
Ask him what motivated him to enter into casting profession and he revealed, “When I was a supervising producer and a creative director, looking at the actors, I felt that I need to do something for and with these actors. The actors go through so much, so I wanted to guide the young and raw talents.”
Sohail, who is satisfied working as a casting director, never encouraged casting couch.
He said, “I was new to casting but not new to the industry, I was aware of casting couch. I was clear that there will be no talks about casting couch in my office. I have seen producers asking about bold and free minded girls. I gladly refused to work with them. Producers openly ask for casting couch and many casting directors are helpless; they bow down. However, there are many directors who refuse to bow down.”
And did he come across actors who approached him for casting couch? He replied, “I have faced this twice – once with a man and the other time a woman had approached.”
Narrating the incident, Sohail revealed, “Once a girl had asked me to meet outside for a dinner or an outing. She started giving me hints, I clearly said no to her. I refused to meet her for dinner or anywhere.”
However, an actor approaching him to get physical and get work was rather shocking for Siddiqui.
Sharing the incident, Siddiqui said, “He was a very good looking and smart guy. A director friend of mine had referred him to me. After meeting me, when he left, within 10 minutes a text arrived from him, which stated ‘I’m ready to do anything, please get me work’.”
When Sohail pushed him thrice to be clear about his words, the actor replied something which shocked Siddiqui. He said, “The actor told me that you are a senior please understand. I’m ready to pay. I’m also ready to get physical for work. That was the time I lost my mind. I shouted and told him, ‘What do you think of yourself, why would you say that. Then the poor guy called me and explained that before coming to Mumbai, everyone told him that this is how the industry works. He was told that he will have to sleep with casting director, director and then a producer. I told him that his notion is completely wrong. I took his audition and explained everything. He got work and today he refuses to indulge in any of these things.”
Sohail has already opened his casting house in Hyderabad and will open its branch in UP. “Very soon I’ll start my own celebrity management in Dubai as well,” he further informed.
“I have started from zero. Today I’m very happy of my journey. I used to take shoes and bottles of celebrities and run behind then. From there, I reached here. I’m proud (of my journey),” he concluded.