Casting Couch in Bollywood – well, you must be aware of this terminology, as a lot has been written and is discussed on it in the media and over social media. Bollywood is a giant entertainment industry of the world. One may stumble upon favorism and lobbyism over there, but they seem okay because this kind of practice prevails in our societies and businesses and we are used to them. But the evil practice of ‘casting couch’ does not seem fine and cannot be approved of. Although it must have been there in Hindi cinema industry from the outset, but I remember in early 2000s quite a big noise was raised in media. Following to it, a number of scandals came up involving many a big names of the industry. Big hullabaloo kept going on and then silence overcame, as usually it happens with every issue in the media.
In simple words, casting couch is a trade in which sexual favors are given for a role or work in movies. Where a number of stars were dragged into the matter, few also opened up by spilling the beans. Even in recent years, few known actresses of Bollywood industry revealed the facts that they had to obey for the sexual business in order to get a chance in films.
The most alarming thing which I had come to know from a friend in Bollywood (who is a model-actress) during mid-2000s, was the existence of male homosexuality in the film fraternity. The fact she disclosed to me was simply surprising at least for me because the persons involved were among those celebrities of Hindi film industry I used to admire a lot. Well, what she revealed to me was that she once approached to a renowned film director for work, who was once a film critic and entertainment journalist prior to entering into Bollywood. He asked her to meet him over dinner cum champagne in a private room at a five star hotel. It was a clear indication of casting couch – the sexual favor in return for work in his film. When the actress turned down his offer, he told her that this was a trade in which all aspiring actors had to undergo – the give and take business. The director also revealed her that he too had to sleep with the widely famous producer (who was the son of the very big name of Bollywood industry and had the big production house) to get his break in filmdom – to direct a movie. Both names – the director and producer simply shook me from tip to toe since I was an admirer of that director and the fan of the movies of that producer being a movie critic and Bollywood journalist.
Before writing this column on the sensitive issue of casting couch in Bollywood, I first thought of revealing the names of these two persons. But since I do not approve of yellow journalism and dislike gutter press, I skipped the idea and protected their identification. I too have been a part of Bollywood for last many years through my journalistic works, and I like to see this industry flourishing in a clean manner. I admit that stars’ kids always have a safe place to enter in film business and do not encounter these kinds of situations. On the contrary the others have to undergo and face casting couch. For newcomers and outsiders, the formula is simple – sell your body and get a chance in return. It is quite difficult to overcome this evil practice, but raising the voice and bringing the facts in media can at least make a difference.