The Crotchet’s Corner

My perspective about all things inconsequential

Spare a thought …

“Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire won an Oscar for the best song, and millions of Indians celebrated. Rightly so, one might add.


The choreographed sequence, that accompanied the credits at the end of the movie, had Dev Patel and Freida Pinto jiving on a Mumbai station platform.


Jai Ho

Jai Ho


The song wowed audiences world-wide, for sure, and is pleasing to the ear.


But, there is something that most viewers would not have consciously noticed – the dozens of others who danced in the song sequence.


And, therein lies one of the most heartbreaking aspects of Indian cinema (and perhaps, in other cinema, too).


Thousands of starry-eyed youngsters pour into Mumbai each year, aspiring for stardom. Most do not make it, and end up as “extras” (or Junior Artists as they are referred to, if one has to be politically correct). It is estimated that there are as many as 100,000 such actors living in the city, all chasing a dream.


Instead of attaining stardom, they end up playing bit roles – part of the background crowd, dancers in a song & dance sequence, screen sidekicks to the bigger actors, or whatever else.


The big stars earn hundreds of lakhs of rupees for each film. The junior artistes work on as little as a measly three hundred rupees a day. And, this assumes they find work everyday!!


Theirs is a sad, maddening, and frustrating existence, one that entails enormous hardship – lack of work, living on pavements, hunger, illness, rejection, exploitation, harassment, etc. There is no glamour, just a daily struggle to make both ends meet. In some cases, they have families, and economic necessity forces these actors to take on whatever roles they can lay their hands on.


If this was not bad enough, these artists now face competition from the young college crowd who are out to make some quick pocket money. Increasingly, film producers are turning to these youngsters who are more hip, and fit in better with the glossier movies that are now being churned out.


Do we ever think of these artists when raving (or ranting) about the latest movie that we have just watched? We seldom do.


Yes, there are some artists who have moved up the ladder and achieved fame. Actors such as Sadhana, Mithun Chakravarthy, Jackie Shroff, Shahid Kapoor, and Shreyas Talpade.


But, for most, it is a blank wall.


Films are all about glitz and gloss. Yet, for thousands, it is anything but.


March 19, 2009 - Posted by | About this and that | , , ,

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