It takes a lot more than good intentions, to make a respectable film. During a busy pre-production schedule that involves doing recces for shooting locations, dotting the i’s in the final version of the script, one of the most important tasks in this stage – is the casting. The director needs to place his blind faith in actors, some of which turn out to be gaffes. This includes going for the biggest stars possible, or taking a chance on rank newcomers.
In 2018 alone, we’ve seen the likes of Gitanjali Rao make a stellar debut in Shoojit Sircar’s October. The fabulous Neena Gupta made a comeback with Mulk & Badhaai Ho and Gajraj Rao reinvented middle-age romance in Bollywood. In other words, 2018 was a fabulous year for the director taking casting risks.
But sometimes. things can go awfully wrong. The director sees some unfathomable thing in the actor, or someone is hired based on their personal equation with the actor/producer/director. Here are eight films that were hurt by their pathetic casting choices:
1. Farhan Akhtar in Daddy
Ashim Ahluwalia’s biopic on gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli, saw Bollywood jock Arjun Rampal transform into a less-attractive version of himself. Unfortunately the decent biopic was marred by Farhan Akhtar’s awkward portrayal of Dawood Ibrahim. What made the director choose Akhtar in a world, where Vijay Maurya nailed the part in Anurag Kashyap’s Black Friday, is a mystery.
2. Harshvardhan Kapoor in Bhavesh Joshi Superhero
Bhavesh Joshi Superhero was a fascinating experiment. And the one major reason for its middling reviews and less-than-stellar box office, was Harshvardhan Kapoor’s insipid performance as a lead. Props to him for choosing a film like this, but it was Kapoor’s inability to lend fire to a role that cried out for it. What a waste of an opportunity.
3. John Abraham in Madras Cafe
He produced it. Sure. But John Abraham’s three-and-a-half expressions were never quite at home in Shoojit Sircar’s Madras Cafe. Supposed to play a RAW agent, going undercover as a military personnel in the war-afflicted region of Jaffna, Abraham’s casting was the biggest problem in an otherwise competent thriller.
4. Akshay Kumar in Gold
In an age, where most of our films are ravaged with anti-Pakistan sentiments, Reema Kagti’s film was like a breath of fresh air. It shows the Pakistan captain, Imtiaz (played beautifully by Vineet Kumar Singh), cheering for India against their colonisers. Sadly, it’s impossible to overlook Akshay Kumar’s lazy, offensive rendition of a Bengali character, Tapan Das. Take Akshay Kumar’s performance out of Gold and it becomes a decent film.
5. Katrina Kaif in Jagga Jasoos
Anurag Basu’s madhouse of a film featured a brave, committed performance from co-producer/lead actor Ranbir Kapoor. On the other hand, there was Katrina Kaif, who was cast as a Bengali journalist.
It’s hard to ignore how little effort went into her portrayal of the character. She put on a pair of spectacles. That’s it.
6. Sidharth Malhotra in Baar Baar Dekho
Initially rumoured to be based on Richard Curtis’s About Time, Nitya Mehra’s film turned out to be a hoodwink that cost Rs 50 crore. To be fair, the film wasn’t short on ambition. It had Sidharth Malhotra and Katrina Kaif taking on the arduous task of playing characters in different age groups in the course of two hours. If that isn’t ambitious, what is? A spectacularly dull Sidharth Malhotra just brought the film down. How often in a scene, does Katrina Kaif come across as the better performer? It was that kind of a film.
7. Vinay Virmani in David
The Canada-based Indian actor, who made his debut in Akshay Kumar’s Speedy Singhs, is especially bad in Bejoy Nambiar’s David. The film had three parallel tracks with a protagonist of the same name and Virmani was exposed in front of a much superior Neil Nitin Mukesh (the best in the film) and the always dependable, Vikram. Virmani’s hamming is for the record books.
8. Nargis Fakhri in Rockstar
Imtiaz Ali’s modern rendition of Heer-Ranjha was so full of passion, that it confounded the audience as to how did Ali go through the film’s shoot without noticing his female lead’s inability to act? Fakhri was so appallingly bad in front of a fully immersed Ranbir Kapoor that thousand memes were launched on her performance way before memes were really a thing.
Let’s take a moment to acknowledge the role of casting directors. These above films prove they have a very important job.