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Shortcuts: Become a Bollywood star

By Carlyle Laurie for CNN
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(CNN) -- If you think getting into Hollywood is "Mission Impossible" then why not try breaking into "Bollywood" -- the booming Indian film business -- instead. Here's how to get started.

BollyWhat?: Before you rush out to your nearest travel agent to book your ticket to India, celebrity and acclaim, spend some time learning a little more about it. In a nutshell, Bollywood is, as the name suggests, India's answer to Hollywood, famous for its all-singing, all dancing spectaculars. Based in Mumbai, formerly Bombay, it's actually the world's biggest film industry, churning out more than 200 films a year for hundreds of millions of fans worldwide.

Learn Hindi: Assuming you've set your heart on a leading role then you're going to have to put in the hours learning some Hindi dialogue. So it would be wise to learn a bit of the language before embarking on your mission to become a star. It's not impossible though, as English actress Rachel Shelley found while filming for the Oscar-nominated "Lagaan" in 2001. Shelly said "I gave up my millennium holiday to learn Hindi." Another British actress, Alice Patten, interviewed about her role "Rang De Basanti" said, "I made a huge effort to sound as good as it could be."

Master the moves: It's true -- no Bollywood film is complete without song and dance, with around six or seven musical sequences included in each film. Many Bollywood aficionados care more about the dance scenes than the plot. "The music is what gets people to the theatres," writes author R. Almeida. So if you're really interested in making it big -- you'd better be prepared to "shake your bon bon" and get "dirty dancing" to the tunes of India's favorite composers.

Be born into the business: Like any other job, you can't expect to become the boss when you start -- unless your father owns the company off course. Family connections never did anyone any harm in Bollywood so be prepared to compete with those whose relatives are already in the business, giving them a head start over you. This isn't only restricted to actors but also to careers in directing and producing. Even legendary director and producer Yash Chopra only broke into the industry as a young actor thanks to the patronage of his filmmaker brother, B.R. Chopra. "My brother gave me a chance in 1958," Chopra recalled to CNN. "I had two or three chances to become a hero or an actor but I had it completely fixed thing in my mind that I would become a director.

Start small: If you don't have a brother, sister, father or mother in the film industry already then one way through the door could be through extras work. With dozens of studios dotted around Mumbai's Juhu district there's usually someone on the look out for some backdrop filler. Scouts often seek out tourists and travelers around the Gateway of India early in the morning. It may not be the most glamorous or rewarding part of the industry but the experience will be something you're never likely to forget.


Dreaming of Bollywood? Be prepared to shake your bon bon.

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