Are Talent Management agencies a boon or bane

Are Talent Management agencies a boon or bane

It was only a few years ago, when the Indian film fraternity decided that casting agencies would benefit them immensely by acquiring candidates for their films. Just like Hollywood's infamous 'agents', India soon witnessed an array of 'Talent Management Companies' or 'Casting Agencies' cropping up from every nook and corner. These agencies pledge organizational security to unwary prospective clients (talents). Although there are a few credible agencies that have contributed positively towards the career of actors, the remainder bragger brochures presenting top stars, fan-boying out some of their apparent good work. But with the changing tides, it seems that some of those authentic agencies have lost their purpose along the way with clients, especially actresses, facing harrowing ordeals. Despite garnering hit films, some of the newer starlets are left without any film projects in their horizons, even by means of a casting or talent agency for support. This invokes a palpable thought of whether talent management or casting agencies are working out for the young lot? Bollywood Hungama's Philip Bode gets renowned film producers Mukesh Bhatt, Ramesh Taurani along with head of Bling Entertainment Solutions Atul Kasbekar, Afsar Zaidi from Carving Dreams and Anirban Das Blah – Managing Partner of CAA KWAN, to talk about an actress's caliber, contributing towards a slow career growth and if casting agencies really benefit anyone.

Talent Management Agencies are sought by a select set of casting directors and producers, for procuring talent needed for their film projects. Although, the thought of a newcomer reaping rewards because of an agency is still in limbo. Talking about the benefits, if any, producer of Aashiqui 2, Mukesh Bhatt says, "I don't believe that any actress or even actor has benefited from an agency." However, producer of Race 2, Ramesh Taurani, believes that some agencies understand a producer's point of view. He says, "Nowadays things have become more organized, they have become quite professional and I think that they are educated enough in knowing the tactical aspects of the market."

With many institutes offering a plethora of courses on talent management, it's palpable that agencies necessitate its employees to be street-smart apart from being book-smart to recognize what's good for their clients. Ideally, an agency should creatively strategize a client's future success on basis of their familiarity of the industry. An agency acts as an intermediary between a casting director and a producer, who are seeking artists for their films. Talking about the incident with actress Deepika Padukone and her agent during the filming of Race 2, Ramesh Taurani says, "We had date issues with Deepika which we sorted out amicably, although it would ultimately be her choice if she wanted to go ahead with the film. In fact, it was her manager who made amends with us at that time. I have worked with stars and their agencies and I think they are quite professional."

Differing from Taurani's standpoint, Bhatt believes that these agencies are not qualified, for the fact that they don't have a gist on the intricacies of the mechanism of film business. He says, "They have their own yardstick in their head which is completely warped. New agencies have come from nowhere claiming to have all the answers, while I have been around the industry for 40 years and I still don't have any answers! For an agency to decide if a film is right for their client is technically very difficult. Very few people understand how the media works as it is not possible to learn this overnight."

Talking about the strength of the decision making ability of talent management companies, Bling head, Atul Kasbekar says, "Filmmakers, branding and advertising agencies have a pretty lucid notion of who fits their brand architecture. If they look at other options from their initial choices, it's usually on the basis of cost or date issues. One can certainly make a concerted pitch but eventually the brands are quite sorted in this aspect." Afsar of Carving Dreams asserts that his agents have an understanding of the industry. He says, "I don't know if they are educated or experienced enough, but I do know for a fact that they have a thorough knowledge of the industry. As mediators, they could lay down the pros and cons of a project being pitched to their clients. But the final decision rests solely on the talent." Managing Partner of CAA KWAN, Anirban Blah, echoes a similar tone. He says, "The actors we work with are intelligent, independent-minded people with their own opinions. An agency's role is to provide information and share a perspective, but they cannot make decisions for their client. The final call on any project is always that of the artist."

So should an agency be responsible for an actress' failing career, if all doesn't go as planned? Ramesh Taurani disagrees with the thought. He says, "An agency cannot be held responsible, if an actress doesn't get work after a bad film. The functioning of an agency is restricted to strategizing the work of an artist. However, the growth of an actor purely depends on their significance in the market, their popularity etc. An agency is not responsible if a film has succeeded or failed at the box-office, it is the actress who carves a niche for herself in the industry with the film she chooses to do." Mukesh contradicts the idea of an agency contributing towards an artists' growth. He says "I've worked with newcomers all the time and I have never used an agency to procure a new face, as I don't think they contribute anything towards their careers. I have introduced the most number of new talents in this industry without a casting agency."

To secure oneself, Atul believes that an artist should lock their next film before the first one releases. He says, "I'm delighted that Shraddha Kapoor has seen success after her debut film didn't perform up to expectations. So it depends on if there is a 'Plan B' for her already in place." Anirban gives his take on the fate of an actress post a dud film at the box-office. He says, "An actor is not responsible for the providence of their movies at the box-office, which stems from the amalgamated efforts of many people especially the director's. If an agency believes in the potential of the actor and that even if the first film fails, we should identify and help make the right breaks for them to exhibit their potential."

Watch this space for Part 2

Article written by staff at Bollywood Hungama. Read more

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