Actors revealed casting couch: In recent times various Bollywood actors have come out and shared their experiences of the Bollywood casting couch, defying the myth around it and confirming its existence.
With the lopsided power dynamic and structure of our society, cases like sexual harassment have been rampant and often go unreported. It is the sense of authority that perpetrator derives from being in a power position over their victim which leads to such atrocities. Similar is the case with the Bollywood industry, where various new actors who are looking for roles fall victim to this power system and harassed by the casting couches, who demand sexual favours from these actors.
Although its existence has been denied time and again, but increasing awareness and movements like #metoo provide a sense of support, many Bollywood actors have recently revealed and talked about their casting couch experiences.
What is a casting couch?
When we say casting couch it refers to a practice that is prevalent in Bollywood as well as Hollywood, which can be understood as, if an aspiring actor wishes for a particular role in a movie they are asked to perform sexual favours in exchange of the role. It is a means to abuse power on the casting director's end.
5 Actors who recently revealed casting couch
The popular daily soap, Kasam Seh actor recently revealed the casting couch she faced when she stepped into the industry. In a recent interview, she told that she was asked for sexual favours in order to be cast and stated it was a 'big film' to which she immediately refused. Despite her turning down the offer the director called her again but she stood by her stance.
Talking to Bollywood Bubble, Prachi said, “I think very direct propositions were made to get cast in a certain film, a big film, but I have outright said no. Even after that director has called me, after saying no, I have still said that I am not interested in your film.”
Another famous television face Ankita Lokhande, popularly known for her role as Archana on Pavitra Rishta made her way to the Bollywood industry in the movie Manikarnika also opened up facing the casting couch. She stated that the first incident happened to her when she was quite young. She auditioned for a South Indian movie and was asked to 'compromise' but she was headstrong on making it to the industry on the basis of her talent.
She was blatantly asked to 'sleep with the producer' to which she told him ‘I think your producer wants a girl to sleep with, not a very talented girl to work with.' later the producer apologised to her but she was clear that she isn't interested in the offer.
Dev D star Kalki Koechlin who is predominantly known for her eccentric roles in the films like Shaitaan, Margarita with a Straw, and That Girl in Yellow Boots also revealed the casting couches in her interviews. She revealed it was a time when she was auditioning for films, a producer asked her out on a date, to which she refused and stated that she was seeing someone at the moment, after that she didn't receive any call from the production house for the role in the film.
The Gully Boy actor also opened about the mean comments by a director who claimed that she bought ‘Russian prostitutes’ in the industry. She even recalled incidents of sexual abuse and said, “I have undergone sexual abuse and I opened up about it first to my therapist and to my then partner.
Tisca Chopra most famously known for her role in the movie Taare Zameen Par has also appeared in various short films on YouTube and OTT platforms. In a session with Kommune India, Chopra recently revealed her experience of Bollywood's infamous 'casting couch'. Like any other new actor in Bollywood Tisca also faced an immense struggle in her initial days in the industry, after the release and subsequent failure of her first film, Chopra explained how she got a call from a famous producer-director out of the blue.
Later her friends revealed the stories about the director and stated, "but you know, agreeing to do a film with him is like agreeing to be his pet squeeze for the duration of the shoot. Are you okay with that?". Chopra on learning this information managed the situation cleverly, befriended him along with his son and wife to tell him off.
Not only women but certain times men also face sexual harassment in Bollywood, which bought to light by Andhadhundh star Ayushmaan Khurana. He is mostly known for films targeting social taboos and stigmas like homosexuality, baldness, and gender roles. He has recounted a casting couch incident from his early days in the industry. The actor said that he ‘politely refused the offer’.
In an interview he revealed that “A casting director had told me, ‘I’ll give you the lead role if you showed me your tool.’ I told him I’m straight and I politely refused his offer.” He also faced rejection for protesting against the misleading practice of 'solo test' where 50 actors would turn up out of nowhere defeating the purpose of the same.
Hollywood and existence of casting couch
It isn't a surprise that casting couch exists in Hollywood industry also, what lays common is the exploitation of power whatever institution it maybe. Various Hollywood actors have also raised their voice against casting couch and confirmed its roots in the industry.
Numerous stars such as Thandie Newton and Charlize Theron have been revealing how they have been subject to the horrors of the experience, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations coming to light. Reece Witherspoon opened up about being sexually abused by a director when she was sixteen and was pressurised by the agents to stay silent. Hunger Games stars Jennifer Lawrence reveled she was forced to do a 'nude line-up' in the early days of career. Charlize Theron told Marie Claire that she once turned up to an audition when she was 18 at a director’s house, where she found him “in his Hugh Hefner pyjamas”.