The life and times of a Bollywood extra

  • Shibani Bedi, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: May 08, 2015 19:36 IST

‘Are we are all lost stars, trying to light up the dark?’ Adam Levine was not courting the woes of small-time actors on a Bollywood film set when he sang this song. But any struggler will tell you that this is just how they feel when – in spite of what the casting directors assure you – you land a ‘role’ in a big movie, only to realise that not every ‘character’ is as elaborate as it was made out to be on paper.

The money is good, I won’t deny it. But if you have any illusions about your place in the larger scheme of things, we suggest you get a few things straight:

1. No matter what your sense of self-worth may be, on the film set, you don’t matter. Even the spot boys know that.
2. Do not mope if you are made to sit in a vanity van the size of a mini bus (with three other extras actors) for more than 11 hours for an appearance which may not last more than 85 seconds.
3. You are expected to get your own costumes. And shoes. The costume department will help you choose the best of the lot, but try not to take things too personally while they turn up their noses looking at your wardrobe.
4. There is a possibility that your food will be laid 20 feet away from the main cast and crew.
5. Rejection is a great way to rethink your life. Remind yourself this in case you get fired dumped one day before the shoot. (This happens, often.)

Shibani Bedi is a full-time journalist, part-time actor and sometimes extra. Her friends and family all thought she was wonderful in Rang De Basanti, No One Killed Jessica and a few saas-bahu serials. Even if they blinked and missed her few seconds on film, er, we mean, of fame. She is going to dazzle everyone for a few seconds in an upcoming yet-untitled film

From HT Brunch, May 10
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