“Women don’t realize their rights, especially in the film industry. What are your rights? That fact that you have a tongue and can use it to say NO. You can say no to roles. We so easily offend everyone in the Hindi film industry because it is such a man’s club. It is like t men’s changing room out there and you cannot offend people,” said the gutsy Lipstick Under My Burkha actor Aahana Kumra on how Bollywood functions. She was speaking at SheThePeople.TV’s Online Safety Summit in Mumbai.

Talking about the digital revolution giving women the voice, she said, “Suddenly everybody is finding their voice and is so vocal and let me put it this way, it is going to be an extremely bumpy ride. The sooner we accept this fact about ourselves that the digital space is going to make a lot of things transparent.”

On the much-crucial case of actor Tanushree Dutta opening up about sexual harassment on a film set, Kumra said that it takes “guts” to take names. But she also pointed out why there may not be unity of women against harassment in Bollywood.

“There have been instances where I have gone for film meetings and people asked completely inappropriate questions like ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’ etc. It has nothing to do with my filmography or education etc. I was appalled. And somewhere you get deluded because meetings after meetings, people are only asking such questions and this is the only way of getting work! If you are single, if you are available and you are ready to go to bed with them. Why are we living in such boys’ club?”

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“There have been instances where I have gone for film meetings and people asked completely inappropriate questions like ‘Do you have a boyfriend? Meetings after meetings, people are only asking such questions and this is the only way of getting work! If you are single, if you are available and you are ready to go to bed with them. Why are we living in such boys’ club?”

“These are the things that really hold back women because there is only one to succeed and such few jobs in the film industry. There are women who have made a choice and will have to continue in this vicious circle. They need to get their houses working and there is a lot riding on their success because what else will they do?” added Kumra.

She shed light on how difficult it is for women to speak up against sexual harassment since several women come to the Hindi film industry putting their dignity at stake in front of their parents and want to make a successful career.

“This is the only way for women to say that ‘hey I made a decision to become an actress and I am sticking to my choice and this is the decision that is going to earn my living’. That’s a big decision, particularly for women in India,” Kumra spoke up for the women actors in the country.

The fiery actor not just dropped some truth bombs about the Bollywood, but also laid bare the plight of women actors in the industry who — even if they want —  to cannot speak up against discrimination and harassment only because of the “boys’ club” attitude of Bollywood.

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