Behind-the-Scenes Bollywood

Bollywood is known for its sumptuous costumes, elaborate dances, and catchy songs. Mark Bennington was interested in something else: What did the Indian acting community look like off the screen? His new book, Living the Dream: The Life of the 'Bollywood' Actor, features interviews and photographs of 112 personalities, from students to superstars. They are pictured reading their lines on the train, sipping falooda, and trying to make it in Mumbai. The interviews have been condensed and edited for clarity. [20 photos total]

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A makeup artist touches up Ranveer Singh before he flies on stage at the 2011 Global Indian Film and TV Honors. (Mark Bennington) #
Neetu Chandra does her morning yoga on Juhu Beach in Mumbai. “I lived in a van for 15 days after I first arrived in Mumbai and couldn't get work for the whole first year," she told Bennington. "I am very competitive and I never took a single dime from my parents, I always wanted to make it on my own.” (Mark Bennington) #
Shivam Bhargava practices dance moves at a studio. “I used to be very lazy; I used to sleep 18 hours a day," he said, "but now working toward this seems very easy, because I love every bit of it." (Mark Bennington) #
Adil Hussain gets out of a rickshaw on JB road in Versova. “Real training for me is extremely physical work," he said, "How do you find those within you? To locate those areas which are dark, which are very tender ... to find neutrality in one’s self, in order to go any direction for a character, this is the work.” (Mark Bennington) #
Pooja Verma gets ready in the dressing room she shares with three other actresses on the set of the TV soap opera Bhagyavidhaata in Film City. (Mark Bennington) #
Nitin Gupta flexes during a workout at Diljit’s Gymko in Seven Bungalows. "I never went to acting classes when I came in 2009, I just did Bollywood dance classes and joined the gym," he said. "It’s so competitive here, but at the gym I feel like I’m the best." (Mark Bennington) #
Ayub Khan plays at home with his daughters. “Even after 20 years in the business I still feel there is so much more I need to learn," he said. "Acting is a journey for me to better understand myself.” (Mark Bennington) #
A street performer acts out a scene from the classic film Sholay at the Gateway of India in Mumbai. (Mark Bennington) #
Chitrangada Singh, a model turned actress, answers questions at a press conference for the film Yeh Saali Zindagi. "[Watching myself on screen is] terrible," she said. "I just cringe and I become so small in the seat … I just dig myself in and find too many faults in myself.” (Mark Bennington) #
Huma Qureshi poses for a portrait at Café Coffee Day in Goa before shooting her debut film with director Anurag Kashyap. “You have to figure out what you can do that no one else can and work on that," she said "It’s a lot of waiting and hard work, but it’s totally worth it, there is nothing better than the high of acting. Nothing!" (Mark Bennington) #
Deepika Padukone rehearses for a music video at Film City. "To the outside world it looks like I’m super-confident, but nobody knows what I’m thinking," she said. "Only people that are close to me know that I have butterflies in my stomach all the time.” (Mark Bennington) #
A man holds an umbrella for Kareena Kapoor as she shoots a commercial for sunscreen on Madh Island. "Yeah everyone gossips but I’m not really affected by it," she said. "I think it’s much different here than it is in Hollywood." (Mark Bennington) #
Jaan sips falooda at Juhu beach. “Anyone who doesn’t hesitate when they’re in front of the camera and has it in their mind to try acting should,” he said. (Mark Bennington) #
Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah work in a lighting booth during rehearsal at Prithvi Theater. (Mark Bennington) #
Nargis Fakhri, photographed at her home as she gets ready for an appearance. She typically gets paid between $15,000 to $20,000 USD for a promotional event. (Mark Bennington) #
Ranbir Kapoor rests during a commercial shoot at YRF studios. “If you are rude to a fan, you lose that fan for life," he said. "My father is an actor and if he was eating dinner and a fan came for his autograph, he would shoo them away. I would always look at the fan's face and think, 'That person is never going to watch my father’s movies again,’ so I don’t take it for granted and I hope I am always deserving of their love.” (Mark Bennington) #
Shilpa Shetty laughs after a commercial shoot at Mehboob Studio. “There’s so much reality in life that people want to live in a different world, which is why they enjoy Indian cinema," she said. (Mark Bennington) #
Swara Bhaskar reads on the local train returning to Andheri station from Churchgate. “This desire to be an actor is like falling in love with the wrong man," she said. "Being in Bombay, wanting to be in this business is like being with someone you know is bad for you … it’s going to screw with your head and heart and it’s going to make you a little mad, but you’re in it." (Mark Bennington) #
Makeup artists prepare Boman Irani in a trailer at Mehboob Studio in Bandra. “In the last 10 years I have done 54 films," he said, "for me acting is all about craft and likability.” (Mark Bennington) #
A man sits outside of Studio 77, one of the busiest casting offices in Andheri. (Mark Bennington) #

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