From being an incidental engineer to dropping everything to follow her dream in Mumbai, casting director Janet Ellis Prajapati, has been there and done that. Her journey is nothing short of a soap opera. From an employee to launching her own firm, Janet Casting’s Hub, she has come a long way.
“I come from a staunch Christian family, where education was always given priority. Like a biddable daughter I studied hard, but that was not my calling,” explains Janet. “Then I joined as an executive at reputed film production house. But, post the death of that producer, suddenly I was back to ground zero. Then casting came to me and I realised that casting happened naturally with me.”
This maverick has been a casting director for over 50 shows, which includes a full spectrum of genres from historical to mythological to fiction to reality-based shows. The most popular shows for which she has been casting director are Vighnaharta Ganesh, Hanuman, Jhansi Ki Rani, Veer Shivaji Maharaj, Maharana Pratap, Rudra ke Rakshash, Kaal Bhairav, Adaalar, Ashoka, Bitto and Maniben.com , Savdhan India, amongst others.
Very few know that Janet started her career as a casting director for films and then did a few TV shows for Sanjay Khan’s Productions. But, her breakthrough came with Sssh… Koi Hain, a horror show by Contiloe Productions. Back then casting was a different ball game. “Twenty years ago there were no mobile phones. I used to give my contact details to actors on a piece of paper, and they used to reach the location by train,” says Janet.
“Back then casting was merely a cog. Now, it’s becoming the spine of television. The casting fraternity in India has indeed come a long way,” apprises Janet, who is known for her exhaustive research before zeroing in on her actors.
She cherry-picks and trains artistes to portray thought-provoking roles that are seemingly in far-reaching contrast to their inherent psyche and potential. In the process, she has helped a host of adaptable lead and background artistes carve their niche in the television world.
Janet has launched Avika Gor, Tusnisha Sharma and Nirbhay Wadhwa, apart from launching many actors including. “Talent has to be spotted. It can be incidental too. For instance, one of the most famous child artiste, Ashnoor Kaur, was my son’s teacher’s daughter. I saw her and just decided that she is the one who will play the role of Rani Laxmi Bai’s friend. And it was Avika’s hair that made me sign her for Ssssh… Koi Hain, one of the first few shows that Avika did.”
When she locked Ulka Gupta to play the role of young Rani Laxmibai, she was challenged by various authorities, but it was her detailed research on the subject that bowled over the authorities. And the rest is the history.
How she analyses each character and its underlying motivations — whether elusive, implicit, derived or pronounced. This helps in a thorough scan of candidates to evaluate their perceived competence for the given role. The chosen artistes are trained through tailored workshops to help them translate their potential into a performance that the audience would cherish. And that’s what Janet does, for she loves what she is doing.