Think you might have seen this guy before?

Source: imgur

Looks vaguely familiar right? His name is Harry Key and he played the auctioneer in this scene from Dostana.

This video might be of some help in recognising him:

Harry Key was brought up in Australia and set out to explore the world. However, his journey came to a halt when he ran out of money in India. Blessed with good height and looks, he decided to get into Bollywood and acted in various movies for five years (2005-2010). He's worked in small commercials and movies like Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja (2009), Dostana (2008) and Dum Maaro Dum (2011) to mention a fewAs a result, he experienced first-hand the murky underbelly of the glamorous facade of Bollywood. He invited people for a candid AMA (Ask Me Anything) session on Reddit and revealed a lot of info about what goes on behind-the-scenes, with some pretty interesting anecdotes. Here are a few interesting excerpts from the session.

How real is the casting couch?

"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."

On 'outing' the people who participate in the casting couch practice:

Did you hang out with any Bollywood actors?

What did you like the most about working in Bollywood, as an outsider?

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

"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"."

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?

"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."

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

"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."

Were you often typecast? As what?

"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."

Who is the hottest Indian actress you've worked with? 

"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.

I find Bollywood movies completely ludicrous. Not to be mean but, the over-the-topness is way overwhelming. Do the actors/directors/crew take these movies seriously? Are they dead serious making these?

"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."

How is the pay? Did they need more white guys in this industry?

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

"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."

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

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?

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

"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."

Harry's life has been an interesting ride. He has since been a wedding planner, has written a book Speak for Yourself: Talk to impress, influence and make an impact and is now a confidence speech coach. 

You can read the entire Reddit thread here.