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.
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 actor from Mumbai, on the sets of a horror-thriller in Hyderabad. Local filmmakers prefer women actors from Mumbai and north India for their fair skin and willingness to wear modern and revealing outfits. October 2014.
Film sets at Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad, the largest film studio complex in the world. December 2012.
Lakavath Chanti (20) at a portfolio shoot in Indira Nagar, Hyderabad. May 2015.
Window display at a wigmaker’s in Krishna Nagar, Hyderabad. May 2012.
Anil Kumar Kuntapaka (21), Arun Kumar Yalanati (26) and Vinod Kumar Giriboina (28), all aspiring actors, at the Junior Artistes’ Association in Indira Nagar, Hyderabad. March 2015.
Syed Adil (24), a junior artiste, takes a cab back home from a shoot. December 2012.
Actors playing Taliban fighters in a film partly set in Pakistan, take a break at Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad. December 2012.
Ramesh Tummala (19), plays the devil in a horror film. Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad. August 2015.
Moviegoers started lining up at 4 am for tickets to the first show of Baahubali, the most expensive Telugu-language film ever made, at a theatre in Kukatpally, Hyderabad. July 2015.
Mohammed Nazeem Ali (32) has an elevator business. His interest in films led him to produce and to star in a horror-thriller. October 2014.
A festive pandal comes up on the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi in Krishna Nagar, Hyderabad. September 2015.
Anitha Mukkurala (23) and Kavya Reddy Gurram (24), who became friends working together in a film, look out for each other and exchange information about opportunities. August 2015.
Junior artistes rest in between shots on the sets of Baahubali, an epic drama filmed at Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad. October 2014.
Junior artistes on the sets of Baahubali, an epic drama filmed at Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad. October 2014.
A character in a horror film, played by Sai (23), falls unconscious when a supernatural force strikes him. Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad. August 2015.
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.