Lured by the glitz and glamour of Bollywood, often labelled as ‘strugglers’, they wait for one real chance at fame.
It took a minute for Satya to realise what the Bollywood casting director was asking her to do – and to make the decision to walk away. “He claimed he had a part for me and then asked me to visit his home, alone,” says the 27-year-old aspiring actress from New Delhi.
Satya is one of the thousands of young women who leave their homes and loved ones behind – often against the wishes of their parents – to pursue their dreams of making it big in the world’s most exuberant film industry.
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The actor’s experience with what is known as Bollywood’s “casting couch culture” underlines the challenges facing anyone seeking to break into India’s massive, multibillion-dollar, insiders-only film industry.
Unlike the children of celebrities who are groomed for stardom and tailor-made debuts, outsiders have to contend with a gruelling routine of auditions – and rejections – and fend off lecherous men.
The #MeToo movement against sexual abuse and harassment perpetrated by powerful men has hardly been able to secure any wins in India’s entertainment industry. “I have been sexually harassed three times in my first 10 days,” says Nirisha, an aspiring actress.
Satya hopes her parents might be able to forgive her by seeing her on the Mumbai building posters one day. But, will they?
A film by Gautam Singh
Associate Director: Abhijeet Saha
Cinematographer: Vidya Nath Bharti
Editor: Jameel Hodzic
Location sound: Manoj Yadav
Sound design: Linus Bergman
Colour grade: Kishore Kanchan
Producer: Ala Alhussan
EP: Tierney Bonini