The trend of having background dancers dates is decades old now. Though earlier, filmmakers would choose random people to fill in the crowd or shake a leg with the hero/heroine, background dancers are now a quintessential part of the movie.
A lot of actors started like Shahid Kapoor started as background dancers and with the advent of musically backed movies through the 80’s to the 90’s (like Rangeela, Taal, Hum Apke Hain Koun, etc), the industry now had a newfound interest in background dancers. And since then, there have been plenty of iconic songs which are nothing if for their aesthetically directed coordination with the background dancers.
Gone are the days when they were simply known as the ‘extras’, background dancers are taken very seriously, right from their costumes, props, make-up, to their rehearsals these days. They might not get an equal share of the limelight, but with increasing budgets, background dancing has become a very respectable and well-paid profession in the film industry.
Depending on the choreographer they are working for, the movie and the type of project, an average background dancer is paid from approximately 50 thousand to 1 lac per month.
The industry is now opening new arenas for dancers by giving them dance reality shows and Bollywood projects that open up opportunities for them. So this time is actually a good time to be a background dancer in the industry!