Young and happening actors like Nikhil, Naga Shaurya, Nani, Nithiin and Sharwanand are finding themselves in a similar situation — all of them are facing the challenge of finding their leading ladies. With several fresh faces being launched every month, it really does come as a surprise to see actors and filmmakers in such a predicament.
While Nikhil and Shaurya are yet to get a picture-perfect girl for their forthcoming films, it is with great difficulty that Nithiin, Ram and Nani found their leading ladies, but only recently.
Director Trinadha Rao Nakkina, who spent several months trying to get a heroine for Ram for their forthcoming romantic drama Hello Guru Prema Kosam, blames it on the lack of theatre actors.
“Mumbai is able to provide a varied talent pool because of their strong theatre presence. The Marathi and several other theatre groups have been constantly nurturing several actors from plays over the years. As a result, new actors are on the block. But back home, the theatre set up is poor, so we find it difficult to get budding performers,” he explains.
However, theatre actor and director Vinay Varma disagrees, saying, “The theatre scene here is very active despite several limitations. The problem is that hardly any Telugu director comes to watch a play here! So it’s sheer ignorance to say that theatre doesn’t happen here.”
“It’s perhaps some director’s fetish for fair skin that prompts them to reach out to non-Telugu girls,” says Vinay adding, “Unfortunately, filmmakers go to Mumbai and get stars who don’t understand a word of Telugu and yet play a major role. Then somebody has to dub for them. And unlike the Hindi film industry, the Telugu film industry has no value for the Casting Director. They still rely on references and production managers, so how can real talent be sourced? Sadly, most theatre groups here bend over backwards to please the production houses, hoping that some of their actors will get good roles. But they don’t realise they’re being shortchanged and exploited. I would say make life difficult for the filmmakers to find talent.”
Director Sriram Adittya admits he had to struggle for months before zeroing in on Rashmika Mandanna for his under-shoot multi-starrer with Nani and Nagarjuna.
Meanwhile, director Hanu Ragahavapudi ascribes the delay to ‘interesting roles’.
“With quirky roles being written for actresses, it is indeed challenging to find one that suits the role. I encounter this challenge every time,” explains Hanu, who spent nearly four months before roping in Mehreen Kaur for Krishnagadi Veera Prema Gadha.
Filmmakers are often slammed for turning a blind eye when it comes to casting a Telugu face, even opposite young actors. Apparently, they don’t want to take the risk of casting a new Telugu girl, fearing a lack of excitement in the project.
“For some reason, if you cast a Telugu girl, there’s no excitement in the camp unless she tastes success. The trend of looking towards Mumbai for casting leading ladies began in the late ’80s, so we are just going with the trend. But if the same Telugu girl comes from Mumbai, then she’ll be cast,” quips Sudheer Varma, who recently roped in Kajal Aggarwal for the Sharwanand-starrer.
What’s even more annoying for filmmakers is that the delay in the project escalates costs for the producers, in the form of salaries to the staff and office rent.
“We set deadlines for the film and plan our budget and schedules accordingly. But if the project doesn’t take off as planned (due to the lack of a heroine), we still go ahead with our original plan by rescheduling the artistes (depending on their availability) and moving ahead with the shooting.”
Meanwhile, Naga Shaurya adds, “When we call someone a heroine, we assume she will look pretty, dance and act. But to get such a girl (suitable for the character), it naturally takes times as no one is perfect.”...