My short bio: I grew up in Australia, and after uni went to travel the world, ran out of money in India, so settled in and became a Bollywood actor (from 2005ish-2010). I've since also done a few interesting things (written a book, been a wedding planner, gone on the telly a few times), speak Hindi... Ask me the things.

My Proof: My IMDB:

And mah face:

Comments: 444 • Responses: 107  • Date: 

patharkagosht129 karma

How real is the casting couch?

BollywoodGora269 karma

Pretty real. Particularly for girls. Girls would really, really struggle with this, apparently even the famous Indian ones, but certainly the white ones. Continually get taken out to dinner by a 'producer' who wanted to talk about a role for a film; and the dinner would be in the Marriot or somewhere where he'd already taken a room upstairs. As far as I could tell the only real way around it for girls was to make do with small roles or get hitched with someone quite famous.

For guys, I didn't deal with much except when I did any modelling. I mean, except for people getting handsy on-set, which was kinda common (I was touched up two, maybe three times). But in modelling it's explicit as fuck.

Story time: I was on set for a film, and a really famous fashion designer was there because he was friends with the director or someone. He's there, just checking things out and drinking chai and stuff. Anyway, he starts talking to me about whether I want to do modelling and I said "I suck at it, but a ramp show does seem like a lot of fun", so he takes my name and connects with me on FB. That night, he starts sending some pretty crazy explicit messages, basically saying "If you don't fuck me/suck me off, you ain't getting any work" (just with him, not threatening to ruin my career I should add). I mentioned it to an Iranian guy the next day on another set for another thing, he was a model, and he unloaded. Said his agent was about to send him back to Iran because he wouldn't 'play ball' and as a result wasn't getting any ramp work. Said it was pretty much the understood thing that if you wanted to get ramp shows and serious modelling work, you pretty much had to bend over for it; then recounted about seven or eight really dodgy incidents which were kinda rapey as fuck.

app4that106 karma

Crap - and that is from the male POV. Ladies, (and gents) please feel free to record and 'out' any of these jerks on social media...

BollywoodGora136 karma

Problem is, as an actor you could 'out' someone - but that'd be the end of your career.

ultronic35 karma

How likely is it that they would also get shot/attacked for exposing someone?

BollywoodGora120 karma

Oh right... Um, I reckon that'd be unlikely. Like consider the Trump shit about 'grab her by the pussy' - that is NOTHING on Indian politicians. Many of them have active investigations against them for rape, murder, kidnapping. They just wash off.

Nah you wouldn't get shot, you'd just never get hired again.

AlbinoSmurf7312 karma

Well, what if someone was fine with that after they decided that wasn't the career for them if that's the way the game is played?

BollywoodGora35 karma

Yeah I'm sure you could, but consider it this way: If you're giving up on it as a career, it's probably because you're not famous. So who's listening to a nobody.

This is exactly how Cosby and Saville and them got away with it, this isn't an Indian thing, it's a celebrity thing. When one person is worth so much money to so many others, people will conspire and bad shit will happen.

TheFishSeattle8 karma

Maybe not if you did it on social media in front of everyone. But also, yea, they want willing pussy/ass, so being labeled that way..right..the whistle-blowers dilemma.

BollywoodGora33 karma

Also to be clear - I don't think there is that much wrong with propositioning someone for sex. I find the 'I'll put you in my fashion show if you do' a little bit creepy/wrong.

And this is the problem with the casting couch - people who choose to fuck are doing exactly that, making a choice. Sure, a coerced choice, but they're still free to choose. This means that a conviction, even in the court of public opinion, is unlikely.

I think that is very different to, say, the make-up artist who touched my cock, or the assistant director that used to teach me 'peenadi' and 'munadi' (forwards and backwards in Malayalam) by coming up to me while I was on horseback and saying 'peenadi' while poking me in the peepee, and 'munadi' while poking my bum.

ThickAndDirty19 karma

Actually it's the other way around, but I get the picture.

BollywoodGora15 karma

Is it? There ya go.

KaramQa11 karma

Will you name that guy that wanted to casting couch you?

BollywoodGora33 karma

Even if I could remember it, no. If I could find the screenshots, I would maybe consider it, but without proof it'd just be a nasty thing to do to someone.

Rileybon8 karma

If you ever decided to leave the industry, would you consider going out with a bang and just outing every single person you encountered doing something shady?

BollywoodGora23 karma

I left 6 years ago. No, most of what I heard was strongly reliable hearsay, but certainly not enough to risk libel and possibly fuck over someone's life. Plus, you're not just outing the creeps, you're also outing the people that did the casting couch thing to get roles with them.

FootBa1190 karma

As I look at Bollywood films over here in the states, I find them completely ludicrous. Not to be mean but, the over-the-topness is wayyyyy overwhelming. Do the actors/directors/crew take these movies seriously? Are they dead serious making these? I guess I'm asking if they are aware of how hilarious they are.

BollywoodGora235 karma

Yeah they take it deadly seriously.

But they know they're over-the-top. You've got to recognise that a serious segment of their audience is living in abject poverty, they're 'gaonwale' or village people. They don't want their reality reflected the way we in the west do, because their reality is dull.

The term they often use to describe it was "escapism" and I think that nails it pretty much. They want it to be over the top and silly - they get out of their seats and shout insults when the villain appears on-screen.

Also, go back to our films of the 60's and 70's and you'll see a similar vibe. Over-the-top colours, bizarre costumes, obviously-fake sets, laborious unrealistic dialogues - that's the era Bollywood is in now. Well, was - it'd already started changing by 2010 when I left, and gritty(er) films were becoming more common.

seattelite105 karma

This is absolutely true for my family at least. We're not poor by any standards, but everyone in India has poor relations or has seen what true poverty is like. If you've seen the horror of true poverty on a daily basis, there's no desire to see it thrown back at you for 3hrs of your leisure time.

No one would have paid money to watch a movie about suffragettes or civil rights in the 70s. And no one would have sat through Saving Private Ryan in the 40s.

BollywoodGora34 karma

Nicely said.

where_is_the_cheese26 karma

they get out of their seats and shout insults when the villain appears on-screen.

Seeing Bollywood films in the US isn't quite this bad, but the Indians in the audience are still extremely noisy and let their kids run up and down the aisle playing. Super obnoxious.

BollywoodGora57 karma

Yeah, that's a thing. I asked about this once and someone said it's a bit like Shakespeare's stuff. It drags on for ages and every revelation is made about five times so the audience can shout and fart and go buy food and still not miss anything.

SkittlesMcClure68 karma

Do Indian women fully shave their puss hair?

BollywoodGora125 karma

Nope. Not the ones I met, anyway. You classy person, you :)

ultronic36 karma

Was being a white male a bonus, negative or neutral when trying to pick up?

BollywoodGora76 karma

Honestly, I was a bit reluctant to chase Indian girls.

I had an Indian/Australian girlfriend for a bit, but I think part of that culture divide made me think that I shouldn't go near 'proper' Indian girls because I got the impression... No, I think this was in my head, but I felt that Indian people would feel that a girl had been devalued by being with a non-Indian guy. Or something. I dunno. And I knew that their family would probably not like it, and that we'd have to hide the fact that we're dating... and all that stuff.

But yeah, generally being tall and white is a bonus. I don't think that's limited to India.

PleaseNinja37 karma

You heard it boys, dont be not tall and white. Now go get 'em!

SkittlesMcClure15 karma

Thanks for answering. It may not be a classy question, but it is a real one. I'm sure other people would like to know. Classy is overrated, real is much more fun.

BollywoodGora11 karma

True :)

Frosted1337s59 karma

Did any actors/actresses play pranks on one another while on set?

BollywoodGora135 karma

I remember Abhishek Bachchan was a bit of a kid, on the set of a film called Dostana he threw water bottles and would hide from people and stuff like that; but no seriously good pranks.

Except the stunts. The stunts were almost always like "Hey we're going to put your life at risk" and if you got cranky later at the level or risk, the response tended to be "But everything turned out okay didn't it?" which often felt like the Bollywood version of "It's a prank brah"

FormulaXDGame21 karma

What do they say on the occasions when it goes badly and you die?

BollywoodGora133 karma

Well I was hurt quite badly in a stunt in this film, 'Luck' at 2.56.

We had to run across train tracks for some sadistic betting ring, me and a bunch of other people and Sanjay Dutt. Each of us get nailed by the trains - except him. I'm first to shoot the getting hit by a train bit, and they do it by pulling a diesel locomotive up to next to me, putting me in a harness and attaching it to a pulley system and pneumatic arm. The pneumatic arm is charged up with pressurised air, and then released, and I'm yanked off my feet into the air - as if pinged off the train as it hits me.

Well what they hadn't figured was that as I was yanked up and left, my legs would flick right. Smashed my ankle into that giant push-plate thing on the end of the train. Broke off a bit of bone. I am screaming, dangling in the air, and the stunt directors crew come over to grab me and stop me swinging - by my busted ankle. Jesus it hurt.

What did they say? Didn't say shit. Didn't even say sorry. Just kept complaining that as we had to re-shoot the jumping out of the truck bit, my ankle hurt too much and was too swollen for me to jump off a truck onto uneven railway stones. I disliked that stunt director. That was the second time he risked my safety.

Edit: FUCKERS DIDN'T EVEN USE THAT SHOT! I'd not seen the scene until just now.

JaiKishan3442 karma

This is so cool! I'm an American expat schooled and employed here since 1998. Does speaking Hindi help get you roles or does it seem like others treat it as a novelty?

BollywoodGora89 karma

Um, it helped get me a small number of roles that required hindi (TV serials and a few commercials); but moreover it helped me demonstrate that I was serious about acting in India, and helped in building rapport. Making a joke in someone's own language = huge rapport builder.

Wow, you've been there ages! I hope and suspect you already do know it, but if you don't: learn the effin language, yo! ;)

Seriously though, I did used to get a bit cranky at other Goras for not learning to speak the local language. I mean I know it's not necessary, but I think it's a mark of respect.

sortakindalikesyou21 karma

Related question: Any tips to make learning Hindi easier?

BollywoodGora60 karma

Learn the alphabet.

It's confusing as fuck at first, but if you try to learn by transliterating hindi, you're gonna have a bad time.

For example, listen to a hindi person say "with" and "seven" and "sixty" and they sound identical to our Western ears.

There are similarly hilarious mistakes that can be made as "thief" sounds like "forget" and "cunt"

frodeem5 karma

Thief sounds like forget?

BollywoodGora56 karma

'Yeh chor do' - forget it 'Yeh chor hai' - he's a thief 'Yeh chod hai' - that's a cunt

Put on an Indian accent and they all sound almost identical.

frodeem17 karma

ah, ok. I was thinking forget = bhul gaya. I see what you mean.

BollywoodGora12 karma

Oh yeah that one too.

fourgbram5 karma

Chor do is actually leave it. And chod means fuck.

Source : am Indian.

BollywoodGora11 karma

Yeah forget it = leave it in English usage. And yeah, I got my chut's and chod's mixed up.

ropeareropes2 karma

chod means fuck. Not cunt.

BollywoodGora11 karma

Oh yeah mixing my chut's and chod's.

JaiKishan3411 karma

I speak Hindi for sure! In fact I've started picking up a weird Punjabi/Urdu/Hindi hybrid while staying with my friends and coworkers. It's a shame the American School and several IB schools don't offer Hindi classes, but I managed to pick it up later on through coaching and running government school youth leagues.

My real secret shame is having never been to Mumbai in all these years 0_0

BollywoodGora7 karma

Oh fantastic, that's good to hear. Yeah you should go - it's an amazing city. So many people.

Snowbank_Lake35 karma

This is a cool AMA! Were you in any dancing scenes? And did you get to spend any quality time with some famous Bollywood actors?

BollywoodGora61 karma

Haaa, no. My typical response to that is "I was paid to not dance" and it's not really a joke. E.G: (oops that's a link to a whole playlist but there's a fair bit of humour in it).

That music video I tried and tried and tried to learn to dance but just sucked so bad my role ended up being "Walk here, look at that, now walk there"; and that continued throughout my career. About seven other times did this happen - someone hire me to dance then get me to just not.

But also, I was mostly the bad guy, and bad guys generally just kill people and rape women and don't really sing much.

I did hang out with a few of them. John Abraham was an absolute champion, and so was Abhishek once I'd done about five films with him. I even filmed a silly skit with John Abraham pretending to kick him off my motorbike after a day of shooting on Dostana.

Irfan Khan was also a champion. Umm, as were most of the South Indian actors - who I spent a lot of time with because Pazhassi Raja took 3 years to complete shooting.

seattelite16 karma

Just have to say- congrats on being so attractive!

BollywoodGora16 karma

Not sure if sarcasm.

ObeseSquirrel300kg14 karma

Holy cow you weren't kidding about not dancing worth a lick

BollywoodGora17 karma

Yeah I'm awful. Wasn't much chop as an actor either.

srnull26 karma

Were you often typecast? As what?

BollywoodGora79 karma

The white guy.

The evil white guy, to be precise.

srnull13 karma

Figured that would be the case. Was hoping for some more details. Why were you "evil" as a white guy? Any ideas about that evilness commonly occur?

BollywoodGora51 karma

There's not much depth, really. You're just a moustache-twirling evil guy, usually there just for the glory of the Raj. But to be fair, given some of the stories from the British occupation, may not've been too far from the truth.

Um, the most evil things I did were... Um, I played a counting game in one film where I made people run and kiss a British flag before i could count to five or I shot them. Another time I smothered a girl to death (same film), and another time I hung a boy and then slapped my wife for complaining.

UberCheapGamer10 karma

Did you often portray British soldiers/officers?

BollywoodGora26 karma

Often? Mostly! That was a fair amount of my work, particularly because I can ride horses pretty well.

hbilaiya225 karma

Greetings from India. How was your experience as an outsider, working in Bollywood? What did you like the most about it?

BollywoodGora90 karma

What I loved, and still love, are the people. Indian people are so warm, so welcoming, so friendly and willing to go out of their way to help you. So much that it gets annoying sometimes.

People would invite me into their homes, make me chai, ask me excessively personal questions, demand I stayed for dinner. It was great. The people come first in my list of favourites. Food comes second.

fosterwallacejr25 karma

How do Bollywood film sets factor in bad infrastructure in the area, if at all? Was it difficult to get everyone to set, and how large were the crews?

BollywoodGora67 karma

I think I get what you mean.

Well one way they handled it was giving people stupid call times. I would generally turn up about 30 minutes after my call time and I had a reputation for being really punctual.

Out on location was a different matter. For some of the scenes in Pazhassi Raja we had to fly to Kerala, then load into a 4WD and get driven sometimes 6 hours to a town, where we'd stay in a hotel overnight and then drive another 2 hours to the set every morning. There were problems with that, the producer's son died in a car accident, for example. And even once there, getting drinkable water and stuff out to the sets were difficult, but as is the way in India, eventually someone will manage.

In Mumbai though, for studio shoots, it was pretty easy - even if it was a bit late. The biggest problem we had one time was with an actor called Govinda. He'd become increasingly superstitious, to the point of (in my opinion) mental disorder; and that played havoc with the schedule. One day he wouldn't turn up because his numerologist said it was an inauspicious day. Another day he turned up and left at midday (nothing has ever really started happening by midday). Another day I had to say "Aag" - which means fire and was the name of a jewellery brand that were doing some product placement. He refused to be in the studio when it was said - which was obviously a blow to the jewellery company who'd paid specifically for him to say it, so I had to say it.

Needless to say, that film was never completed.

But generally, it was people problems (gangs of religious zealots or goondahs (gangsters)) rather than infrastructure. India's infrastructure works pretty well. Particularly the rail system.

TEFL2222 karma

It sounds like Govinda had obsessive compulsive disorder.

BollywoodGora31 karma

I think he had a superstition that had developed into something like that.

It remains one of the personal memories I have that makes me awkward when people try to pick apart belief/faith/superstition and mental disorder.

thesandwichmonster22 karma

Was you on First Dates the other week?

BollywoodGora17 karma

I was.

ArtisanalPleasure15 karma

I can't believe no one else has recognised you from that! I made the connection as soon as I read the title of this AMA. I thought you were quite memorable, and the program was quite popular. Can you talk a little about your experience on there?

BollywoodGora11 karma

Sure - as much as I'm allowed to because they were particular about me not ruining parts of the production process.

The most interesting bit to me, having been on a few TV things, was how unobtrusive the filming inside the restaurant is. You barely notice the cameras, no-one's operating them, there are no boom mics or people asking you "Can you please say that again" and jamming a camera in your face. Made it very easy to forget it was happening.

alphaq0122 karma

Are any of the actors in Bollywood down to earth or are they stubborn?

BollywoodGora55 karma

Some of them are lovely. Some are epically stubborn and vain and kinda rude. Just the same as normal people.

Except, I guess, there's a kind of status that comes with being a dick - like if you're able to be that rude/picky/whatever, you must be famous. So I think people milk that by being dicks. I know for a fact I was edited out of at least one scene because the lead actor turned up at editing and demanded that happen; and in the scene in Dostana (posted elsewhere in this AMA) I later found out that the reason we weren't standing together in the scene (me with John Abraham and Abhishek Bachchan) was because the didn't like that I was so tall I was making Abhishek look short - so inexplicably they're over the other side of the stage and the camera needs to whip-pan to them when I talk about them.

techmonk1239 karma

Isn't Abhishek 6'1? How tall are you?

BollywoodGora51 karma

That's what he claims, but he ain't. I think he's about 5'10"

Dr-Pepper-Tastes-Bad20 karma

I'll be 'that' guy and ask who is the hottest Indian actress you've worked with? Also, did you become good friends with anyone on the set of a movie you were in?

BollywoodGora42 karma

Priyanka Chopra. Hands down, heart-stoppingly gorgeous. Even in person. I worked with her in Dostana and from that set was cast in a Nokia commercial with her.

It was meant to be the main scene in this ad, a wedding on a beach, with me getting married to her. But a local landowner got cranky that her residents association hadn't been informed, so she called the cops - and the moment the cops are there they'll want to get paid to let you shoot. I went out and tried to sweet talk the cops and met an 'encounter specialist' who are special cops who are brought into active crime scenarios (because India has 'encounter' laws which mean that cops can shoot someone in the commission of a crime - this often leads to the encounter specialists being paid off by gangsters to whack other gangsters, just by letting them know when they'll be robbing a bank or something). Anyway I meet this guy, this cop and was shaking his hand and and Indian handshakes are going forever - half way though he lets me know he's an encounter specialist and has killed 22 people. I was holding hands with a serial killer, basically.

Anyway, we never got to shoot the full scene but here's me with her at 0.15 in this ad.

Edit, thanks u/HookMeUpNard you're right, this is the ad I meant this one:

HookMeUpNard5 karma

Don't think that's the right vid?

BollywoodGora8 karma

Edited - you're right, thanks!

mortuus_gal20 karma

How did you get your roles? Did you find it difficult to become an actor in Bollywood industry?

BollywoodGora70 karma

To become an extra, it was piss easy. You seriously just walk around Colaba (a suburb of Mumbai where all the tourists hang out) and someone will approach you and ask you to be an extra in a film. That's how I got into my first film (Rang De Basanti I believe it was). I kept doing that for a few weeks, but it's a bit of a slog. 6am bus to Film City or somewhere, then stuck on set often until midnight for 500-1000 rupees. That's 18 hours work for $7.50-$15 USD.

Once I decided to take it seriously, it got a bit harder. I had a motorbike and I'd just spend most of my week riding around to different castings that people would tell me about. I got an agent but he didn't hear about them all and its very disorganised as a system; so often the other Bollywood Goras (white guys) would message each other and say "There's a casting for a commercial in Juhu" and we'd all turn up to compete with one another for the role.

After a bit I got a little bit better known. Not by the public, but by producers/DOP's/directors/assistant directors. Then I'd get special treatment, and personal phone calls, and occasionally get cast without having to audition, which felt great. Having a proper visa really helped with this, as did the fact that I could ride horses and was getting pretty good at speaking Hindi.

Edit: pretty sure it wasn't Rang De Basanti but I'm struggling to remember what it was. Preity Zinta and some others.

BlitzedGoom17 karma

I speak Urdu and you username is amusing to me. What's your favorite Bollywood movie?

BollywoodGora33 karma

Haa :)

I am struggling to remember the name, but it's a gritty, more real version of Sliding Doors for India. Simple Hindi, good stories about infidelity and people meeting on public transport.

And Dev D was pretty good. I was friends with Kalki actually - we shot a in infomercial together that I'm sure she'd rather I never share. She's a great actor, looks great, and speaks like six languages (including Tamil and Hindi). And the film was a great mix of grittyness and escapism.

That and anything I was in. Actually Dostana was a pretty good film imho.

analweapon15 karma

Haha was it one of those late night Ab King Pro informercials? Because I remember seeing her in one of those and it proper befuddled me.

BollywoodGora27 karma

It was! The 'Powerful Swing Massager' - one of the worst fuck-overs of my career, and probably hers. We were promised it was only to be aired in Saudi Arabia, and were paid accordingly.

One month later, it's on telly, and we're both getting calls from directors shouting at us for doing it. Next I get a FB message from a friend in Amsterdam who's stoned and watching me on telly, next it's friends on a ferry in the Greek isles. That thing went fucking berserk.

analweapon11 karma

Holy shit that's hilarious(your friends watching it part), I expected the Hindi news channels to escalate that on repeat the next few days, Kalki already being a known actress when it was aired.

You and Kalki must be real thankful that nothing came of it. Did you two do it because the pay was good?

BollywoodGora10 karma

The pay, for me (I remained tight-lipped about pay because it was so likely to start conflicts) was 15,000rs, which was good money for me at the time. But not nearly enough to be put on Indian/International telly...

axaytsg16 karma

What do you feel about the lower-budget yet critically higher rated movies and directors, such as Anurag Kashyap?

Also do you how much scope do you think there is for indie filmmaking in Mumbai?

Do you know about youtube channels such as All India Bakchod, The Viral Fever, East India Comedy, SnG Comedy etc? All of them, TVF especially, have some good web series. A good change of pace from Indian telly.

BollywoodGora18 karma

Yeah I think Anurag Kashyap is amazing, I actually already mentioned Dev D as one of my favourite films. I am or being Cyrus was also that kinda indie feel.

I think the scope for indie stuff is huge, and as yet untapped. I'll have to check out those channels though because this is the first I'm hearing of them. My ex used to make a thing for MTV with Cyrus S. too, that was pretty funny, off-the-wall and extremely low budget.

AnirD3 karma

Is your Ex Anusha?

BollywoodGora9 karma

That is not her name but I think you're thinking of the right person.

smoha9615 karma

Hi thanks for doing this! Seems like you had a neat career. Anything particular that you missed about home that you can't get in India?

My parents (who are Indian born) also told me about the idea of escapism whenever I expressed my frustration at Bollywood media. Are there similar televison trends in India like our love of reality TV like MasterChef or the Bachelor here at home?

BollywoodGora56 karma


I grew up on a cattle farm, a fact I didn't mention too often while there. But yeah, good steak is nearly impossible to find, even at really expensive restaurants. God I missed steak.

Oh and my family. But mostly steak.

BollywoodGora27 karma

Oh missed the second bit, and thanks.

Yeah they were going bonkers for reality TV. I was a judge in a Voice Dubbing show (a bit like The Voice but for voice work not singing); they had 'Kaun Banega Crorepatti' which is "Who wants to be a millionaire" adjusted for exchange rates (a crore is like 100,000 I believe. No, that's a lakh.). They don't do cooking shows because everyone who's not totally poor has a chef.

One of the interesting challenges to their 'reality' TV is the caste system. In that they wouldn't get a dalit and a brahmin in the same house for Big Brother, so it mostly was a corrupt cesspit of people paying off producers to get a 'role' in it.

GayCer13 karma

They don't do cooking shows because everyone who's not totally poor has a chef.

I think that's inaccurate! There are 100s of cooking shows that are aired mainly during lunch hour (12-2) and later during tea time (3-4 pm), some of them by really good and famous chefs!

BollywoodGora7 karma

Oh is that the case! Sorry, beg pardon!

usernamecheckssout2 karma

Never heard of the caste problem in reality TV. Maybe, I didn't notice.

BollywoodGora5 karma

But you don't often see taxi drivers and street sweepers taking part, do you?

seb_soul13 karma

How difficult did you find Hindi to learn, how long did it take you and how fluent are you?

My girlfriend is Irish but wants to learn Gujarati (quite similar to Hindi) as that is my heritage, so just wondering on behalf of her.

BollywoodGora30 karma

Um, I'd recommend she learn Hindi because virtually ALL Gujjus speak Hindi. But I guess that's your thing together, and it's a really sweet idea.

Umm, well it's started to slip lately - but I was pretty much fluent(ish) after three years. That's when people started saying "Oh he actually speaks hindi!"; and most of that was just from saying "Kaise bolte hai" and "Kya matlab hai" (I know you know, but for the others: "How do you say" and "What does that mean") because those two phrases massively accelerated my learning; and are surprisingly difficult to first learn ("How do I say, how do I say?").

MyOwnGuitarHero12 karma

Hi there. Not sure if this has been asked already, so sorry in advance! Looking at your photo you're quite obviously, well, a White guy. What kind of roles does a White man get in Indian films? Did they ever try and make you look more ethnic?

BollywoodGora29 karma

Haa no, with a country of 1 billion Indian people, they're not short of brown people.

I was hired to do the prototypically white person roles. Foreign Raj-era oppressor, or out-of-town businessman. Also, for a variety of reasons, films will often include a few scenes overseas. Those scenes ext shots will be done on location, but the internal shots will usually be done in India with a room full of tourists as extras and yours truly as whoever.

chaosaurus12 karma

How is the pay ?

Did they need more white guys in this industry ?

BollywoodGora37 karma

Pay is shite.

At the moment, I've no idea. But it's not a matter of "Oh no, we have no white guys" it's "We have no white guys that aren't dreadlocked, scrawny-arse, tanned hippies who are going to piss off next week" - so your main drawcard will be getting there, staying pale, and sticking it out for a while.

Knight12ify11 karma

Aight, as someone whose Canadian, but brown, and been around these upper class types, I always see Bollywood movies that rip off of Hollywood movies. How commonly did you notice this?

BollywoodGora31 karma

All the time. They were quite shameless about it too. I remember turning up to one audition, I think the film was "We are Family" and they just basically said "Have you seen X? We're basically making that".

The best example is Taxi 9211, which is a massive rip off of that Samuel L Jackson film (struggling to think of the name and may even have the wrong actors) where one is a cab driver and someone else fucks him over and they end up in this escalating revenge battle. Even one scene, where he pulls up next to him on a freeway at speed and shows him a wheel wrench and lugnuts, they ripped off shot-for-shot.

I was always amazed at how they managed to copy a 110 minute film and beef it out to 200 minutes with songs and meaninglessness.

BollywoodGora13 karma


usernamecheckssout8 karma

Thanks for the AMA. Loving it. And I think "We are family" was one of the first Bollywood movies for which they legitimately bought the rights before copying it. Recently, they copied "Indecent Proposal". Hitch has also been copied, with your favourite actor Govinda in it. :P

BollywoodGora5 karma

Haa really!? That's an interesting development. They were always a bit fast and loose with royalties etc.

Indianize10 karma

You have had a cool life so far. What is next for you?

BollywoodGora25 karma

I wanna write another book, and ride my motorbike back to India/Pakistan and make a documentary about faith and belief. Kinda Louis Theroux meets Long Way Round.

That and keep doing what I do currently which is work to make people speak better and be more confident.

Edit: PS thanks :)

knuffley10 karma

Great AMA. What was your worst experience as a wedding planner?

BollywoodGora28 karma

Hands down, the Gypsy wedding I did. Smashed the venue, got massively violent, stole all sorts of shit, had to call the cops to get rid of them.

It was my first ever booking - I'd been working on a sales/commission basis for like 6 months or something and hadn't sold shite. This white guy walks in, which was rare because despite being in London, most of our clients were Indian/Afghan/Arab/African. I didn't think much of it, quoted the full price, and this guy's like "Yep, will cash do?"

The boss was out of the office and I called him and said I'd got a sale. He's like "Whaaa? Hang on. Is he a gypsy?" me: "Let me check that for you" him: "Oh are they still there?" me: "Yes" him: "Does he have an Irish accent and is he offering to pay in cash?" me, looking through the booking form: "Yes" him: "Fuck"

So we do the function, and from 10 minutes in they're already having fistfights. And they're drinking, hard. Keep coming up to the bar and trying to play tricks to get free beers, handing one over to people and going 'You've only given me six, I ordered eight' and the like.

Once it started getting out of control the venue owner was like "Fuck this, I'm shutting it down" and we pleaded with him not to, knowing it'd go berserk if he did. He did. It went berserk. They had brawls, stole what was left of our booze, smashed the stage to pieces, broke almost every last centrepiece, started throwing the cake at one another. Proper bedlam. Cops needed to come and they basically said "We do anything, and it'll get ten times worse". We ended up barricaded in the kitchen for 4 hours waiting for it to die down.

jolly_pantman9 karma

Great AMA!! How has been your riding experience in Mumbai's traffic ? What do you ride? Have you been to other parts of the country on your motorcycle?

BollywoodGora21 karma

Mumbai's traffic was BONKERS. I think I posted it elsewhere, but I'll post it again here - a helmet cam of a more sedate drive through the streets..

It was a 1991 Enfield Bullet 350cc. I got it mostly stock and chopped the shit out of it, long forks, skinny front wheel, fat back wheel, monoshock, custom seat, tank, straight bars with risers, straight-through pipe, K&N filter. Fucking loved that bike. Called her 'Louda' because a girlfriend at the time called Laura lent me the money to buy her on the proviso I named it after her. And 'Louda' was close and also means cock.

I bought her in Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu, rode her to Chennai, then back to Kerala, then up to Mumbai, then put her on a train to the Nepal border (never doing that again), then rode all of Nepal, through the Himalayas (Rohtang pass, the whole shebang), Ladakh, Kashmir, down to Delhi, left her there for a bit, then rode her down to Mumbai. So pretty much bottom to top of the whole west side.

jolly_pantman8 karma

Sick!! Unrelated question : Have you met Deepika Padukone there? She looks hot af on the screen!

BollywoodGora10 karma

Naw never shot with her, sadly. She does, this is true.

Death2598 karma

How is Benny Lava doing?

Benny Lava

BollywoodGora10 karma

Aww, blocked here. I love that video.

oopsydoopsyloopsy8 karma

How do the crew treat you differently as a white person?

BollywoodGora31 karma

They were really nice actually. I made a point of saying thank you and having a chat with people and not treating people like shit, so I generally got on really well with the crews. Particularly as once you're inside, it's a small pool. You end up seeing the same lighting/camera/set/costume people again and again.

But it's kinda cheating - because Indian people are generally quite nice to Westerners so it was easy.

Cheereo7 karma

Worst experience with a famous Indian actor? Btw best and realist ama I've seen in a while

BollywoodGora11 karma

I outline the experience with Govinda somewhere else. He was a bit of a chore. Massive prima donna and a bit unhinged, I thought. Particularly because we were shooting for days but he just wouldn't show and the production stopped paying us for the days he wasn't there.

Niggnacious7 karma

Hey, thanks for doing this! Did you have to work on your American accent if you were playing an American or did the filmmakers not care? Also, did you make suggests to change lines of dialogue if the English sounded awkward/stilted? And if so, did the filmmakers allow it?

BollywoodGora9 karma

I occasionally did stuff in other accents, and was a fairly prolific voice artist because I could change my accent (here are some voice things - I the 'Russian' and the 'Spanish' accents from 1.23 in this one, in a single take which I was pretty smug about). But yeah, no-one could tell and no-one seemed to give a shit if the accents were legit.

Yeah generally I just re-wrote my own lines. My brother started acting there after I got him a role in a film, and he rather amusingly never re-worded his scripts. The end results were pretty hilarious.

Technisearch7 karma

What bollywood films would you recommend for my 6 year old daughter?

I know she would love it but am unsure what to begin with for her.

It would need to be in English *

BollywoodGora8 karma

Um... A film other than a Bollywood film? I'm not sure you... I just... Eeehhh....

Usaki_13006 karma

Linnbaba is it you!!?

BollywoodGora14 karma

Haa, no - but I did meet him. We had the same mechanic in Colaba. (Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram for those of you who don't knwo what is going on).

Juiciya6 karma

Do you prefer Bollywood or Hollywood?

BollywoodGora24 karma

To watch? Hollywood. Even speaking Hindi, what they speak in films is weird, it's like Shakespeare - over the top and flowery and not really the way anyone speaks. So it's really difficult to understand.

officedepot236 karma

What was it like to work in Kerala? How was the experience different than in North India?

BollywoodGora21 karma

Kerala is a standout in terms of many things. Highest literacy, lowest poverty, best education, best treatment of women. I put most of these down to the fact that the caste system isn't as prevalent; whereas in Northern India you tended to see greater gap between rich and poor, and more really abject poverty.

officedepot233 karma

Thanks. Could you go into the differences that you saw in people through the eyes of a foreigner?

BollywoodGora10 karma

Well, coming from Australia, the population density was huge. As was the fact that people would just walk up in the street and say "Hi, where are you from?" then proceed to ask you a series of increasingly personal questions and then invite you to dinner. It was nice to see how much people look after family and friends, but the flipside of that (in my opinion) is that it leads to nepotism and corruption at higher levels.

dotisinjail6 karma

What's your honest opinion on Indian people? Not just the ones you worked with.

BollywoodGora10 karma

Love 'em, as a people. Very friendly, accommodating, curious. Excellent generous hosts. My only reluctance is about being in service roles to Indian people. Partly because they're such excellent hosts, they often expect similar bend-over-backwards service from others; and partly also because of the caste system meaning they often see service positions as beneath them. In service situations they'll often be a bit abrupt and unfriendly-seeming. This isn't helped by the fact that while 'please' and 'thank you' do exist in Hindi, they're not really used as much as implied with an 'ie' suffix on a word and a wobble of the head. When translated to English "Get me water" sounds a bit abrupt.

TEFL226 karma

Who was your favorite actor, or actress to work with?

BollywoodGora22 karma

Tough to say. Irfan Khan (was in Life of Pi and Slumdog) was really, really nice. John Abraham was too. Mammooty was also a really nice guy. The girls never talked to me much :(

Sockdad5 karma

How much would an average movie, that you participated in, cost to produce? Also, did they use decent equipment when filming?

And... Did they at any point call you Bruce or was Monty Python not a thing in India?

BollywoodGora12 karma

Haa no, nobody called me Bruce.

As for film budgets, I don't know. The equipment was top shelf for the west, about 20 years ago. Like huge set lights that belonged in studios in the 80's, and many were still shooting on film film; though later on there were more and more shoots on... What were they called, red dot cameras or something. Anyway, digital film cameras.

Let me check the budget of the two I've mentioned the most. Google says Dostana, 500 million INR, Pazhassi Raja 270 million INR (mindful Paz Raz was for a much smaller audience, it was the most expensive Mallu film ever made up to that date).

trangersings5 karma

How interesting! I've actually watched Dostana, but don't remember it well enough.

  1. What are your favourite Bollywood movies?

  2. Do you think the lack of social consciousness in some Bollywood films (consider Dostana itself, and their stereotypical, caricaturesque portrayal of gay people) is something that makes you uncomfortable? Or does it not matter to you when it comes to your job?

  3. Do you speak Hindi with a strong accent?

  4. Where are you currently?

BollywoodGora11 karma

  1. I quite liked Dev D - and anything I did :) Actually I also liked dostana.

  2. No, not about the gayness anyway. I thought it was pretty liberated of India to even have a film about gay people, and them being stereotypically camp was part of the film - they were straight guys, playing straight guys, playing gay guys. What you're talking about did make me uncomfortable though. For example in Dostana, one of the guys talks to Priyanka's kid and says 'She doesn't love you if she doesn't spend time with you' - which is a kinda fucked up thing to say to a kid. You see a lot of this, nasty behaviour that, if done by the lead, is fine and doesn't lead to any comeuppance. Or the fact that I was playing a racist stereotype and reinforcing racist thoughts, that bothered me a bit.

  3. I'd say it's a mild accent - definitely I don't sound Indian, but many Pakistanis thought I was Pathan, and so on. If I stay on simple topics I can be mistaken for someone a bit brain-damaged trying to speak their second language - which isn't so far from the truth.

trangersings3 karma

Thanks for the answers! What I did like about Dostana was the fact that the girl didn't end up with any of the leads who were frankly, not the nicest people.

It's great that you can speak Hindi with some degree of fluency, I don't know a lot of people from the West who can. :)

BollywoodGora13 karma

Yeah disappointingly few people seem to bother to learn. I would often give other goras a hard time about that, and call them chutiyas in front of them, and they'd be like "HEY, I KNOW THAT WORD!"

BizarroCullen5 karma

Why most Bollywood movies are long? Most of them are 2.5-3 hours long, an hour longer than most movies around the world.

BollywoodGora7 karma

Same answer as I gave elsewhere, and same reason they're so 'over the top'. A significant portion of the audience live in poverty, so the longer you can elevate them and drag them away from the drudgery of hard labour, the better.

Chengweiyingji4 karma

  1. What films?

  2. Was it hard to get a role in the Indian-dominated industry?

BollywoodGora28 karma

  1. Depends what you mean by films. I was in about 100, but that's shooting them. Of those, about 30 never made it through post-production (hell, one never even made it 10 days into production! Was called Ghulami and I met Irfan Khan, the guy who was in Life of Pi and also had a role in Slumdog Millionaire - funny story about that film, I declined to audition for it because I read the script and though it sounded like a shit film). I was a non-speaking role in the majority of them, some of which I was edited out of, and had a speaking role in maybe like 10-20 films. I was a lead in only one film that made it through production. It was called Pazhassi Raja and was technically a 'Mollywood' film in that it was made in Kerala, where they speak Malayalam (a neat fact - that word is a palindrome). In that I played a historical character, very badly. But the film was pretty good, like Kerala's version of Braveheart, and it won a bunch of awards and recently I believe HBO bought it.

  2. Getting small roles was piss-easy. Getting big roles was, rather predictably, fucking hard. I ride horses pretty well, and tried to be reliable (turn up on time, don't be too much of a prima donna) and that certainly helped. By the end of my time there I was working 2-3 days a week, which was pretty good.

Chengweiyingji8 karma

Do they pay well?

BollywoodGora32 karma

Nope. The film I did a lead role in, (that HBO bought) paid me, I think, 5000rs per day. Which is like, hang on, USD$75 per day. For riding horses, doing my own stunts, everything.

You can survive off that, reasonably comfortably in India, but you won't get rich. I think the most I ever got paid was $20,000 for a fashion shoot - and even that was a fuck-over because the photographer told me it was for a catalogue and it ended up as a full-page ad in the next day's Times of India (major national newspaper).

Nah, I loved it. Like really really enjoyed it and loved the people, but the pay was shite.

Chengweiyingji10 karma

Did people recognize you in public?

BollywoodGora38 karma

After Pazhassi Raja, I went down to Kerala, and a few people recognised me. But I looked really different so people rarely did.

I went to see the film with a few Mallu people though, and on our way out of the cinema they were like "This is the guy from the film!" and I was mobbed. Seriously hundreds of people wanting to touch me and take photos with me and girls doing that little eye thing while hiding their face behind their dupattas. Then I got invited to some state function, and got to ride an elephant, and give a speech to people who had NFI what I was saying, and generally had a great time.

One other time I was doing a TV show and a mum recognised me. But generally, no. I even once scalped a ticket to Dostana because a friend hadn't shown up to watch it, and the guy I scalped it to sat next to me in the audience and didn't even recognise me when my scene came. Later a friend was like "I saw Dostana!" and I was getting all grinny-like, and she was like "Jay was in it!".

He was standing behind me, mostly out of focus, and she didn't even recognise me, in the close-ups, in the foreground. Gutted.(here's the scene - ps I ad-libbed my lines which I still think are pretty funny).

Keric6 karma

Best comment of the AMA by far, hope it gets more notice. That photo of you is solid gold. Can you tell me what it means to "wear the flesh away from the bones of society?" Haha A+ ad-libbing.

Sidenote: I am acting in a small-budget Legend of Zelda fan film. I enjoy acting but don't want to pursue it as a career. Still, I think I could die happy if something similar to what happened to you outside that cinema ever happens to me. Thanks for the AMA!

BollywoodGora6 karma

Haa cheers Keric! Where will I see this fan film when it comes out?

canunottnx4 karma

Was it difficult for you to learn and adjust to Indian culture and etiquette? also did you feel less liberated while you were there?

BollywoodGora12 karma

Yeah I was quite aware of figuring out the customs and adapting to them, not swearing too much, not touching women (I mean at all - don't mean to suggest I was a gropey bastard); not touching kids by the head or learning to not get pissed off when something that should take "Five minutes" ends up taking five days.

Hellos1174 karma

During your travels and film shoots in India, what's your go-to snack or food when you're feelin hungry?

BollywoodGora9 karma

Umm... Depends - after getting the shits enough times I tended to go for anything that was currently on the boil when I purchased it.

mannabhai4 karma

As an aussie, are you a big fan of cricket? and how do you view the Indian obsession with cricket?

BollywoodGora17 karma

I find it an intensely boring game, though I did start to get more interested when the IPL and 20-20 series took off, those were more fun and watchable. Yeah they're nuts for it, Sri Lanka was even nutser!

hashtagrealtroll4 karma

Why did you decide to continue doing bollywood? Also, do you live in India now?

BollywoodGora7 karma

I kept going for five years because it was loads of fun, then decided i wanted to move on to do other things - so I now live in the UK.

Jezified3 karma


BollywoodGora5 karma


razor5cl3 karma

How prevalent was corruption in your line of work over there? Did it cause you any problems/ help you in any way?

Nice username by the way, I love it :D

BollywoodGora9 karma

Depends what kind of corruption. Every time I was pulled over by the cops I'd just bribe them to let me go, but actually on-set I knew it happened, a lot, but I didn't get to see much first-hand.

One time it did happen first hand was when shooting a scene in the jungle for Pazhassi Raja, and these goondahs turn up demanding baksheesh. They get paid and fuck off. Next day, another crew turn up asking for money and the producer's like "Well you'd better sort out this other gang then".

Dunno what happened, but next day the original gang are back, pissed as newts, demanding more money. Getting pushy and violent. Next they're trying to shove us around and I get into a small tussle with one who falls over. We leave. Later apparently they attacked two of the lighting guys with a machete, or so the story goes.

That kind of corruption you mean?

Austangj2 karma

What countries have you been to and apart from India which has the best and why?

BollywoodGora10 karma

Shit tonnes. Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, New Zealand, Poland, Germany, USA, I live in the UK now, Spain, Nepal, did a motorbike trip through France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium recently. Uhm, the Netherlands, Canada, China, Hong Kong (not a separate country I know but might as well be)... Loads of places. I know I'm forgetting some.

But the best is still Australia. Hah! Nah there's no 'best' country. Really. Is there?

Kultzz2 karma

How cringey are the Grade-A edits when you first watch them?

BollywoodGora7 karma

Not sure what you mean by the 'grade-A edits' but if you mean the editing process, I generally didn't get to see the film until the edits were almost complete.

We'd shoot, I could see bits on the preview monitor (the little telly you have on set that the director watches the shots through) then I wouldn't see it again until we got to dubbing where I'd see it with shitty sound in its almost completed form (occasionally with bits of CG missing).

BrashCandelabra2 karma

Is it difficult or dangerous to date in India?

BollywoodGora6 karma

Nope. In metropolitan areas it's piss easy. Just ask a girl out. Meeting a 'proper' Indian girl's family would be more challenging.

nvrrddt2 karma

On a scale from 1-10, where Japan is a solid 9, how completely different is living and working in India as someone from a western country (including Australia, haha)?

BollywoodGora7 karma

Um, I'd say a 6 or a 7. Depends. Some bits are simple, but other bits are intensely laborious and you need to get your head around things like - Indian people will say things to make you feel good, even if they're not true. Like "How long until we get this part for my bike" and they think "Oh telling him it'll be a week will annoy him, so I'll say tomorrow" and you turn up again and again and again and it's not there. The place is nuts, like every single day you'll see something that'll make your jaw drop. Someone with a sword through their cheek, a riot, heejras begging for money and stroking your face, anything. You need to learn to chill, which I think I'm pretty good at now - though perhaps could do with a refresher.

FanOfGoodMovies1 karma

How much does an average moviegoer there spend per week? And do you know what Markesh means in Hindi?

BollywoodGora5 karma

No idea what Markesh means...

And moviegoer, I don't know - but I have heard that for some rural people it can be something like 20% of their income goes into Bollywood. I doubt that's accurate and I'm sure it varies wildly.

It is crazy popular though - every ad has a Bollywood star, every awning, bus stop, every song on the radio is from a film - so much people don't say "Which band is this from" they say "Which film is this from". People even speak in Hindi dialogues - a bit like people who say "I'll be back" in an Arnie voice. But not dweebs - actual people.

bodoogie1 karma

Did you ever run into Lauren Gottlieb, American dancer/actress, and former cast member of "So you think you can dance"?

BollywoodGora1 karma

Don't recall meeting her, no. Why, did I? Are you her?

bodoogie1 karma

No, but I followed her for a while and she left the U.S. to work in Bollywood for several years. I was under the impression she was getting a bit famous over there--somewhat successfull in Bollywood. I have to say that I know very little about Bollywood actors though.

BollywoodGora1 karma

Nah, dunno - I left in 2010 though.

HarrySax1 karma

Do people often tell you you look like John Krasinski?

BollywoodGora2 karma

No. I don't even know who that is!

BollywoodGora1 karma

Oh yes - people have told me I look like him actually!

poexone1 karma

OH snap you were in Dostana? Awesome movie. I'll have to spot you out when I watch it again.

BollywoodGora3 karma

It's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance :)

poexone1 karma

Want to give me a time point? That would be cool :)

BollywoodGora5 karma

Dunno the timestamp, but it's the auction scene, it's on YouTube and elsewhere in this AmA :)

Zenmavado1 karma

Did you ever get to meet Bollywood legend Pran?

BollywoodGora2 karma

After a quick google, no - I think he may've been a bit before my time.

GayCer0 karma


BollywoodGora2 karma

Um, dunno what you mean. Fix other people's misunderstandings of culture? Dunno really. Didn't really plan on it. I'm sure I make a few mistakes myself - and particularly about India. Ask any question and you'll get a different answer from every person you ask. Particularly about things like the 'head wobble'.

ElegantCossack-2 karma

*staring at you and bursting in tears Are indians pious people in real life as they are shown in movies?

BollywoodGora22 karma

What's the bit about staring at me and bursting into tears?

Yes and no. Some are deeply religious, others are kind of convenience Hindus. Generally, as it is the world over, the poorer people, or more specifically, those with a low locus of control over their existence, are more pious.

Like my mechanic, Khan. When we first met, his life was going well. Then his brother-in-law (or brother?) died, and he had to look after his niece and nephew, and his mother, and his wife, and his sister(in-law). Eight people I think were living in a shitty apartment the size of my current bedroom, and grandma is getting really ill and needs lots of medication, and his hands start to go - early arthritis. I asked him what he was going to do about it one day (I kept getting unneccessary work done on my bike just to give him money because if I ever tried to give him any he'd say 'Mai bekar nahin hoon' (I'm not a beggar/destitute/useless person). I asked him what he was going to do and his response was "Sab uppar-wale ke hath mein hai" which means "Everything is in upstairs guy's hands". As his life became worse, his faith in Allah grew stronger. Kinda understandable, really.

But the fascinating thing about India, and Hinduism (because even Muslim Indians are kinda Hindu-ey in a way), is that it's generally so inclusive. If you don't believe in god, that's cool, if you do, that's cool. Also there's a saying that there's 330 million (or billion) gods. There's one for getting pissed, there's one for getting angry, there's one for sitting on your arse and hoping that opportunities come your way. I think that makes Indian culture more accepting.

People would ask "What religion are you" and I'd say "I don't believe in any of them" and they'd be like "Yeah nor do I, but what religion are you?" - for many of them it's like a nationality more than a belief structure.

That said, there are many others who take it deadly seriously. Far right religious Hindus are scary fuckers, as are Muslims as we know.

For some light-hearted weirdness, read about the Mahim Creek sweet water incident where people believed that Mahim creek was manifesting a miracle and the water had turned sweet, so thousands turned up to drink it.

I used to catch the train or ride past Mahim creek on a daily basis. It smelled pretty awful. Like you knew you were almost at Bandra because suddenly poop filled your nostrils. This river is fucking black. Like seriously, black water. and people were like "It tastes less like shit today" and everyone turned up and drank it. So yeah, there's some crazy levels of belief in India. Also note, for comedy's sake: The people drinking this water are obviously having to take the word of someone who regularly drinks this water in order to say it's sweet 'today'.

And then the religion bit is almost totally separate from the cultural bit (not really, but kinda). There are many cultural behaviours that people just 'do' regardless of the belief behind them, like turning up to temple or wearing a string bracelet or having a 'rakhi brother'. Generally people who wear the dots are religious, everyone else, less so.

That's a long answer. I became hugely fascinated with belief while I was there, and hence have lots to say on it.

paulthefonz-3 karma

I don't believe you, could you post more proof that you are white?

BollywoodGora12 karma

I already posted a video of me attempting to dance, what more do you want!?

paulthefonz1 karma

But how do we know that your white?

BollywoodGora30 karma