Skip to navigationSkip to content

The invisible men and women who make Bollywood “Bollywood”

Fawzan Husain
Spot the real star.
By Shelly Walia
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

In November, photojournalist Fawzan Husain invited three sexagenarians from the Hindi film industry to launch his new book.

In their roles as the spot dada (who runs odd errands), setting dada (who arranges all props), and lights dada, the trio—aged between 60 and 69 years—belong to three of the most important yet largely unacknowledged departments in the making of any Bollywood film. Dada, which in Marathi means elder brother, is a fond nickname for those working on film sets.

Between the three of them, they “have done almost more than 2,000 films,” the Mumbai-based photographer told Quartz. “And they have spent a collectively around 150 years in the industry, and they are still working.”

Fifty-year-old Husain’s new book, The Silver Screen and Beyond, goes behind the scenes of almost 80 films, and captures those who are pivotal to the making of any film.

“The limelight is always taken by the stars, and to some extent, the director. These are people who actually work to make the film happen. They are away from the limelight. Nobody talks about them. Nobody mentions them. Nobody acknowledges their hard work,” Husain told Quartz.

Husain’s journey to capture the ongoings at Bollywood sets started 12 years ago on the sets of director Govind Nihalani’s Dev, where he was working alongside the art director to create a riot scene. ”When I was doing this, I asked the director if I could bring my camera along. And he said yes. And I started capturing what I saw. And I liked what I shot.”

Here are a few photographs from Husain’s book.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.