Karmaditya Bagga has always loved Bollywood. In fact, he loved it so much that he would yearn to be a part of it even while he was thousands of kilometres away, studying engineering in the United States.
Today, he still might not exactly be a Bollywood insider, but he is helping others live their dreams through his mobile app, Strugler.
When he had a semester break in his third year in college, Bagga went to Mumbai, telling his parents that he was just going on a vacation. What he did not tell them was that he had already decided to become an actor. Bagga believed that he "was born to be an actor." Although he had no idea about how the film industry functions, he decided to try his luck.
He stayed with a friend in Mumbai, the city of celluloid dreams. However, things didn't quite go as planned for Bagga.
"I started looking for auditions. But it's not easy to find auditions and there is absolutely no platform where you can find reliable auditions," he told HuffPost India.
"I called random production houses, but nothing worked out," he said. He then just started showing up at the offices of film directors, without any prior appointments, hoping somebody would meet him. "It was a full struggling actor package," he said, laughing as he recalled those days.
Every day, after getting a tip-off for an audition, Bagga would stand in the heat for hours hoping to get selected — even if that meant a fourth lead in some Telebrands commercial. That's how desperate he was. And, it wasn't just him. Very soon, he realised he was surrounded by struggling artists who just didn't know who to approach.
He came up with a plan.
"The engineer in me met the actor and I developed an app," he said. Bagga built the app with a friend who did theatre with him in school and had a successful tech company. They then roped in a friend who did the coding for them and eventually launched the app in November.
Within three weeks of launching the app, it received 500 hits with a 83 percent recurring customer base.
Just like Bagga, there are hundreds who go to Mumbai chasing their Bollywood dreams. However, if you don't know anyone from the industry, it is very difficult to find where the auditions are taking place. The app helps you with that, by providing information about auditions in Mumbai and other cities.
Naturally, auditioning is the key to landing a role in a Bollywood production. And, it is perhaps the toughest. "As an actor, survival depends on you cracking auditions consecutively, especially when you don't have contacts or godfathers in the film industry, which 99 percent actors don't," Bagga explained.
The app provides a budding actor with new information about auditions every day in Mumbai or any other city, using GPS. "If you decide to be an actor today you can start auditioning tomorrow," Bagga added. "An actor can select a specific city or the 'near me' option to find suitable auditions."
Bagga said that aspiring actors try and go for 5-7 auditions everyday, and the app helps them plan the day in advance. The 'navigation' feature gives them the exact location of the premises where the auditions are being held, which is very helpful as auditions are usually held in small and remote areas.
So, once you open the app, you can choose the city you want to find an audition at.
And then, depending on the city, it will show you the exact location of the auditions.
There's also the option of adding an audition spot. So, if you are aware of an audition happening in your city, you can add more specific information about it.
Bagga says he is trying to get casting directors give them more information so that the app's database can be expanded.
"I wish somebody made this when I started auditioning," the 21-year-old said.
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