Working as an extra in Mumbai’s Film City

David Segal in Slate:

My big Bollywood break came while I was walking down a side street in Mumbai, talking on a cell phone to a man named Imran.

“How many people with you?” he asked.
“Just me.”
“No problem. You got long hair, short hair?”
“No hair,” I said.
“No problem. You how old?

“No problem. OK, meet tomorrow at the Bandra train station, west ticket counter. Eight a.m., work till 8 p.m. Give you food, makeup, costume, transport. Pay 500 rupees. Put you in Bollywood movie, OK?”

You could call Imran a freelance talent scout for the film industry of India, except—as our interview suggests—he's not looking for talent. He's looking for white people. Bollywood requires a few dozen Western extras every day, to add vérité to crowd scenes in ostensibly exotic locales. Imran's job is to find foreigners and chaperon them to Film City, an expansive badlands of rocks and shrubs at the northern edge of this megalopolis, where most of India's movies are made. I got his phone number through a reporter in Delhi, but usually he finds you, trolling local tourist sites.

More here.