Lunch and a Movie

India's booming film industry is well fed

Portrait of Gautam Gulati
James Roper

On the set of his hit TV show, Diya Aur Baati Hum, actor Gautam Gulati breaks for a lunch of chicken curry and salad. He's just one of roughly 180,000 people working in India's 101-year-old film industry, a massive business that turned out 1,724 productions in 32 languages last year. Intimately entwined with this community is the one that feeds it around the clock. Studio catering is as old as the film industry itself; it started as an extension of filmmakers' households, with wives overseeing the cooking of communal meals for casts and crews. A century later, some A-listers might bring something from home or order a special meal for delivery, but among the crews, only freshly made homestyle comfort food will suffice: curried vegetables, tandoori chicken, dals, crispy pappadum crackers, and syrupy desserts.