After waiting 30 years for my big break, I decided I would try my chances in the foreign market. Rumors had it that blonde hair is like a “get into Bollywood free” card. At least that was my hope, since my dance skills consist of feigning a seizure and my singing is just slightly better than the noises a dying horse makes. I had my fingers crossed that my skin color might get me something better than blank stares from drooling Indian men, which is all it’s done for me thus far. Instead of stardom, my short foray into acting offered me a glimpse into the world’s largest film industry.
As an attractive and exotic blonde woman in Mumbai it was just a matter of time before I would be discovered. So, when the suave recruiter approached me with his Bollystars business card boasting himself as a “casting agent for western people” I knew my big screen debut wasn’t far off. I resisted the urge to ask “what took you so long” and instead inquired about the specifics of the film that I would soon be starring in. I didn’t want to waste my time with small talk, after all my people would soon be in contact with his people to work out the details.
Buffet style breakfast, where is my plated meal brought to my private dressing room?
Negotiations for my first ever Bollywood appearance went well and the next day I was already on set. Clearly my agent had failed to work out a few key details as I shared a dressing room with 24 other people and the make up artist only spent five minutes with me. I had to get my own breakfast, and they didn’t even have a chair with my name on it. Nonetheless I was willing to overlook these minor details in order to put forth my best performance in the lead role.
The make up artist helping another actress, as if…where was my private hairdresser and one-on-one attention?
Once I got on set, my dreams were crushed as I was informed that I would simply be an extra in the background. Couldn’t they see my raw talent? Didn’t they see that I exuded stardom. Clearly they had made a huge mistake putting Preity Zinta in the star role. She’s 36 and past her prime, but before I could even object I was informed that she was also the producer. In addition, the chances of me discussing my obvious assists were limited as every free moment she had was spent applying more make up and obsessively checking the mirror.
After over twelve hours of living in the lime light I decided being a celebrity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It is the first and, hopefully, the last time that I will work for less than a dollar an hour. Ultimately, if someone can’t see from my million dollar smile what I’m worth, I shouldn’t waste my time. Oh and that agent of mine is definitely fired…
WHEN YOU GO:
Talent scouts search for foreigners in the Colaba area. If you are not approached in Colaba ask a staff member at Leopold’s and they may be able to assist you.
Be smart and stay safe, before agreeing to anything make sure you get the recruiters information and trust your gut. The scout that approached me was very straight forward about details and immediately offered me his business card.
Keep your expectations low, remember you are an extra in the movie. You are not the main attraction, which means your comfort, make up and food all come after the big stars. Expect a long day with little if any special attention.
Pack snacks, while I was well taken care of for the day I heard from others that didn’t get promised meals. Bring some snacks and water with you to ensure a more comfortable day.
Don’t bring valuables, you will most likely not be given a safe place to store bags, so plan on leaving anything valuable locked up in your hotel.