Mukesh Chhabra is a Mumbai-based casting director, acting workshop director and actor who has cast several actors for movies including director Vikas Bahl's Chillar Party, Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur, Abhishek Kapoor's Kai Po Che and Nikhil Advani's D-Day.
Chhabra graduated from Delhi University with an acting diploma from the Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts. He completed a six-year acting and teaching stint with the ‘Theatre in Education’ Company (TIE) affiliated with the National School of Drama.(NSD)
Chhabra came to Mumbai in 2007 and worked as an Assistant Casting Director before setting up his own casting company. His first film as independent casting director was the small budget film Chintuji. His casting for the film Chillar Party won him accolades based on which director Anurag Kashyap engaged him for the casting of his crime thriller Gangs of Wasseypur and also its sequel.
Subsequently, Chhabra did the casting for films of different genres like Kai Po Che, Shahid, Chennai Express, Jai Ho, Hasee To Phasee, Mastram and D-day. Apart from films, he's also done casting for TVCs. In his career, Chhabra has employed several unconventional casting methods. For example, he spotted the budding actor Irfan Khan, who played the character 'Fatka' in the film Chillar Party, on the streets of Mumbai. Chhabra's democratic style of auditioning has previously invited nuisance value from potential actors.
Actor Rajkumar Yadav (now Rajkumar Rao) was chosen to play one of the leads for the film Kai Po Che only on Chhabra's insistence. Rao's talent in the film won him critical acclaim and later Chhabra cast him in Shahid as the leading man.