The case filed against film producer Bhushan Kumar by a 30-year-old woman, accusing her of raping her under the pretext of giving her a job, has once again highlighted the subject of couch casting in Bollywood. A statement from T-Series, its production house, dismissed the allegations as completely false and malicious and stating that it was falsely alleged that the lady in question was sexually exploited between 2017 and 2020 under the pretext of giving her sex. job.
On Saturday, following a complaint filed by T-Series, Mumbai police registered an FIR against a local politician and a model of extortion.
But the incident brought back haunting memories of many previous instances where female actors have called the casting culture in Bollywood. It has also made many wonder what has changed in Bollywood after the #MeToo movement? Did it scare off the culprits? Or, are women rather abusing their voice?
It is extremely horrible. I know a lot of women who have been through a lot of embarrassing situations. I don’t think women in the film industry are that safe. Even though we women draw a line, people just don’t understand it. If you are friendly people think you are trying to befriend them in a different way, if you are kind and generous they see it in a different way. Men always misinterpret the psychology of a woman in industry. I think they are so sexually deprived and deprived of attention that they behave that way and also because of the greed and weird fantasies in their heads. It’s so sadistic. I am always careful. I never go to auditions or work meetings alone. I always have my manager or someone from my team who always accompanies me because my safety is in my hands.
There are people who emotionally manipulate girls. They sense how vulnerable a girl is and how much she needs a job. They evaluate everything, and then such a case occurs. There are a lot of casting directors who have flirted with me and I took a call that I’m not going to be working with them in the future. Unfortunately, ladkiyaan iska shikaar ho jaati hai and they can’t even complain because the other party is so powerful. In my case. I trusted an aspiring director and he won my trust and he knew my weak points that I was from Kolkata so my Hindi was weak. He said he would help me, he became a friend and then he started to behave badly. It was a shock. Now, I’m not a very great actor but I’m in a position where if a director says he wants to work with me, a producer or a casting director can’t behave badly with me.
Casting couch is still prevalent in the industry today. Throwing yourself at someone isn’t what I call throwing a couch. Speaking inappropriately, giving indirect clues, even these are part of the cast. All the girls of his career have been there. If someone says they didn’t face it, they are lying. But then, I have the impression that no one can do anything by force. When somebody says this guy raped me, I don’t understand. It’s always reciprocal, at least in the industry.
I am a feminist and have always been a voice for women. But while I worked in the industry, I never had to go through the casting. I understand jispe beeti hogi, but I don’t know if it’s right or wrong. We all have a sixth sense, so when you know other people’s intentions aren’t right, you should step away from it. I understand that there would be girls who don’t know how to react. By kya kar liya MeToo ne? Koi asar nahi hua, you just grabbed the headlines. You get social media followers, someone tells you two words, what happened was wrong, we’re here with you, what’s next? Are they paying your bills? Think everyone is congratulating you on paying your bills? People have used the #MeToo movement. A girl speaks out after two years that this happened to me. I have so many friends and family who work in various fields they all say you have to talk every time this happens.
There are good and bad people everywhere. I think the #MeToo movement has given girls the right to speak up and make them believe. But I think there are people out there who don’t use it the way it’s intended. We live in a different time and in the age of social media, so whenever such cases happen to an actress, she should immediately share her story. There are also women who wait for an opportune moment, it happens too. I have been fortunate enough to work with producers who have banners all around the set indicating that this is a safe working space for women and that if any women have any issues they should come and report them. . The right people make sure the women who work with them are safe.
When there are people talking about a cause, others start to realize a situation. Let’s say if I stole money I would get more careful about it. Some people stop doing it, others do it another way. I think this is happening in India, people are more careful and make sure they are not going to say certain things or call in the office. But the fact hasn’t changed that in a country like India a lot of production houses don’t give you the job until you have some sort of equation or are friends with them. A lot of people say you have to set a trap for a producer or a director, they say he said that, when they’re the ones sending a message to that person, or letting the other person lean on, then say oh my god he tried to rape me, touch me. I don’t know if the movement has really affected things.
CASTING DIRECTORS TALK
Ram Rawat, has been part of Romil Teja Casting for 10 years
I have been here for 10 years, nothing like this has happened to us. However, some new casting directors have affairs with girls and say they are going to make them work and then later the MeToo allegations come to them. Such things come to a limit, and they are wrong. This is why these new actors are afraid ki kal kuchh ho na jaaye. And the new actors are afraid pata nahi log aisa kar denge. But you only need acting skills. After the MeToo movement, there was a change in the casting process. Due to Covid, there are also online auditions now.
A casting director, on condition of anonymity
I know that the couch casting exists but think more that the casting directors, the producers and the directors are people, who abuse their power to exploit the actresses. In addition, there are several people involved in the casting process, so it is not fair to blame the casting directors.
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