Grab a conveniently hung rope for balance and ascend a narrow metal staircase that opens into a spacious, tin-roofed loft bedecked with movie posters. On a recent morning, a balding, rubber-faced man in his mid-50s, seated on a platform, was leading a group of students in an exercise.
The two dozen children shared the aspirations of millions of Indian movie fans: Each dreamed of a career in Bollywood, the behemoth film industry for which the seaside metropolis of Mumbai is known. None were deterred by the circumstances of their birth, in Dharavi, the sprawling mega-slum that lies in the heart of the city.
He teaches most of the children for free, offering a rare extracurricular activity in a city where organized sports and classes are usually reserved for those with money. None of his students arrive with any experience beyond mimicking the muscled actors and winsome actresses they know from posters or …