Tollywood, the Telugu-language film industry based in Hyderabad in southern India, produced more films than Bollywood in 2013-14. Every year, thousands of aspiring actors and technicians move to the city, renting tiny quarters in Krishna Nagar and Indira Nagar to be close to the film studios.
Many of them come from small towns and villages and have no real acting experience or the much-needed 'background and maintenance’ – industry-speak for caste, money, connections and urban savvy.
They typically begin as junior artistes (extras) and with some luck and effort, may well become supporting cast or lead actors in low-budget movies and television shows.
Portfolio photographs of aspiring actors on display at a dance institute-cum-casting agency in Krishna Nagar, Hyderabad. May 2012.
Junior artistes, acting as Taliban fighters in a scene set in Pakistan, at Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad. December 2012.
Preetham Alladi (23), shooting for the first scene of his new film, waits for the director’s cue to enter the frame. Hyderabad. July 2015.
Sonam, an actress from Mumbai, on the sets of a horror thriller in Hyderabad. Actresses from Mumbai and northern parts of India are preferred by local filmmakers for their fair skin and willingness to wear more revealing outfits. October 2014.
Film sets at Ramoji Film City, the largest film studio complex in the world, in Hyderabad. December 2012.
A junior artiste waits outside the sets of a movie in Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad. October 2014.
Lakavath Chanti (20), who has just started looking out for movie opportunities, gets his portfolio shot in Hyderabad. May 2015.
Outside a wigmaker’s in the Krishna Nagar neighbourhood of Hyderabad. May 2012.
Junior artistes try to get the attention of a casting agent who was picking extras for a movie shoot in Hyderabad. May 2012.
Syed Adil (24), a junior artiste, in the production cab on his way back home after the day’s shoot in Hyderabad. December 2012.
Mohammed Nazeem Ali (32) takes care of his family’s elevator business but his fascination for movies led him into producing a movie, in which he also plays the lead role. October 2014.
Ramesh Tummala (19), playing the devil in a horror movie, waits as the lights are adjusted for appropriate effect in Hyderabad. August 2015.
Kumar and Mallesh, both aspiring actors and. roommates, go shopping for food in the Krishna Nagar neighbourhood of Hyderabad. May 2012.
Sai (23) acts falling unconscious after being struck by a supernatural force on the sets of a horror film in Hyderabad. August 2015.
Anitha Mukkurala (23) and Kavya Reddy Gurram (24), apply glycerin in their eyes ahead of an emotional scene. The two became friends working together in a film and now look out for each other and exchange information about opportunities. August 2015.
Anil Kumar Kuntapaka (21), Arun Kumar Yalanati (26) and Vinod Kumar Giriboina (28) engage themselves in a game of carrom at the office of the newly formed Telangana State Junior Artistes Association in Indira Nagar, Hyderabad. March 2015.
Moviegoers started lining up at 4 AM for tickets to the first show of Baahubali, one of the most expensive Indian films ever, at a theatre in Hyderabad. July 2015.
An actor rests during a break between shots in Hyderabad. August 2015.
A junior artiste waiting early in the morning for casting agents to arrive and choose actors, stands in front of obituaries for a junior artiste who had passed away a few days ago. August 2015.
A festive pandal comes up on the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi in Krishna Nagar, Hyderabad. September 2015.
Junior artistes rest during a break in between shots on the sets of Baahubali, a period drama in Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad. October 2014.
Junior artistes on the sets of Baahubali, a period drama in Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad. October 2014.
After spending a year and a half trying to land a good role in Tollywood, actor Arun Kumar Yalanati (26) calls it quits. All set to leave for his hometown, Ongole, he calls an agent who owes him money. May 2015.
Ashok, a young artiste and film set construction crew worker, rents a bed at a lodge in Krishna Nagar for INR 30 (USD 0.50) a night. July 2012.