By Rajkumar Bejjanki
Early every morning a group of people gather at Krishna Nagar, waiting for some agent to give them a chance at survival. Survival in the field of the junior artiste is hell indeed. These people wait for their big break in the film industry. As they wait for the decision that might change their lives, their present and future seem rather uncertain and bleak. These artistes are paid Rs. 400 for class type characters and Rs. 350 for mass characters.
Gopal Rao, a junior artiste has been acting for 20 years having acted in almost 900 movies since the time of NTR, ANR and now our present heroes. Earning around Rs. 7000-9000 per month, he is just able to meet his monthly expenses. Gopal is certain to never let his son, an electrician, work in films. “People on film sets do not possess a decent work ethic,” believes Gopal and he would not have his son exposed to such a life.
To enter into the film industry as a junior artiste, one has to register with the union and pay Rs. 20,000. The other side of the junior artistes’ life is quite critical. Even after coughing up such huge sums, the artists, often get ignored by the agents and managers. The managers always end up selecting unregistered artists who are willing to be paid half the salary while they the pocket the other half.
Says Gopal Rao, “If anybody wants to be part of films, especially youth, they should try being part of technical support rather than trying to become a junior artiste. Life is easier that way, because dreaming of a break-through is futile.”
Chanti, an upcoming director says that female artistes who are come from less fortunate backgrounds do not even get paid at the right time. More often than not, they end up as victims of sexual abuse from the agents and managers, sometimes leading them into prostitution. New faces replace the seasoned artistes without a second thought. Problems like these are what keep artistes like Gopal Rao in a constant state of apprehension and despair.
Will the junior artiste ever survive the race to be the next big thing?