Everybody deserves 15 minutes of fame, but nobody deserves to have to spend nine hours in a crumbling, sweltering suburb of Bombay to get it. Nevertheless, that is what many girls from mostly eastern European countries choose to do, some lured by the garish glamor of Bollywood others by the money, these girls are tagged as dancers and masqueraded as eye candy on many a dance number.
The day starts with hair and make-up. Several cans of hairspray and too much blue eye shadow later, the cameras were ready to roll. The girls take their places as we were shepherded over to the lounge to watch and wait. An expressionless Indian actress took her place in the center of this sprawling set. They where shooting a tea commercial and the star Saif Ali Khan was running late.
Lunchtime came and filming stopped for an hour so the girls could chow down on something. I met a few of the other extras, including a Parsi priest dressed in leather pants and silver skull rings. There were also cameramen, sound and lighting specialists, catering staff, runners, friends of runners and everyone in between. It seems long, idle days on set do little to diminish the allure of Bollywood.
Filming resumed and several more hours passed, but we were still waiting. Eventually the shoes came off as the make-up began fading. The infectious excitement from the beginning of the day was quickly losing its lustre.
The girls continued to make mistakes and the cameras continued to roll. The monotony broke when one of the Russian dancers hit her head on the bar during her routine and her dance partner blamed the director for positioning them too far left of shot. The assistant director searched for ice, you realize this is the life of Ukrainian dancer in bollywood.