“What is the casting couch?”, you may ask. Well, in industries like music, television, and cinema, industries that are hard to break into, sometimes casting officials take advantage of their position by requesting for sexual favors in return for a role or job. Yes, this a thing that happens, but we rarely get to hear about it, except when stars come out and tell the world of what they’ve experienced. Here are 10 such incidents that have happened in our own Bollywood.
1. Kalki Koechlin
The bollywood star known well for being a beauty with brains, hasn’t been afraid to speak up on any issue. The same goes for the casting couch, and here’s what the Margarita with a Straw actress had this to say:
“And while we are talking about the notorious casting couch, I must say, of course, it exists! It did try and entangle me in its grip but I am slippery, I always managed to get out of it. The minute I felt uncomfortable, I walked away!
The crux of the matter is that a bad actor, however much she works her way through the casting couch, will never sustain. She still remains a bad actor! The casting couch is not the answer to any aspiring actor’s route to success.”
2. Ranveer Singh
One of the first actors to talk about the casting couch, the lovable goof of bollywood revealed he had personal experience of it in an interview with NDTV. Singh was invited to a “sleazy gentleman’s” house in Andheri, where the man didn’t even open Ranveer’s portfolio.
“Casting couch is a very real thing. I have experienced it first-hand.”
The man instead told Ranveer he had to be “smart” and “sexy” to get ahead in the business,
“Jo smart hai, jo sexy hai, wo aage nikal jaata hai.” he said to Ranveer.
“When I said ‘no’ (to his demands), he cried like a jilted lover. Later, I got to know that he does it to everyone.”
3. Kangana Ranaut
Kangana, a bold woman who’s never afraid to speak her mind revealed that after her audition for ‘Tanu Weds Manu’, she was asked for sexual favors in return for the role. She obviously denied, determined to get the role only because of her talent. And she did exactly that.
“Fortunately, I never had to go through the casting couch. Honestly, I feel somebody has to be really dumb to think that they’d get a role for sleeping around. And I have never been so dumb — not even at the age of 17 when I started my career. People should use their common sense. It’s stupid if you actually believe someone who tells you that he or she is giving you a role only if you please him or her.”
“If the casting couch route was so easy, then all the women from the red light area would have been superstars today.”
4. Surveen Chawla
Back in the early days of her career in the south, Chawla had to face the dreaded casting couch. Here’s what she had to say on the subject.
“I was propositioned, though luckily I had the strength to turn down the offer to be ‘nice’ to the director even if it meant losing a plum role.”
She is grateful she hasn’t met any such offers during her stay in Bollywood, and said
I guess I’ve been lucky to meet the right kind of people in Bollywood.
“I’ve never faced such sleazy offers in the Hindi film industry. Maybe I’ve been smart in my dealings, making sure no one gets the wrong signal. This happened in Tamil cinema where I had already auditioned and bagged an important role. This was a very big film and a very important director, who couldn’t speak Hindi. So can you believe the man’s audacity! The director had his friend call and make the offer for me to sleep with the director. The friend told me it would only be until the film was made. I said, thanks but no thanks.”
5. Ayushmann Khurrana
After Ranveer revealed the reality of the casting couch, our favourite TV Anchor-turned movie star Ayushmann Khurrana also opened up about the couch.
“I have been through that (casting couch) initially when I was part of the industry. I was a TV anchor, so a casting director directly told me that I would have to do it. So, I told him that if I was not straight, I might have given it a thought, but I can’t do it. So yeah, the casting couch exists, but eventually, it’s your talent or potential as an actor or performer which would last. You don’t need to give in to such stuff.”
6. Tisca Chopra
While we all love her for her role in ‘Taare Zameen Par’, she also had to start off like every other actor. Once a popular director offered her a role, she gladly accepted it, not knowing that this also meant that she would have to be the director’s ‘bed squeeze’. Fortunately for her, she found a coy way to get out of this situation. Watch her speak first-hand about how she did so in this hilarious video.
7. Preeti Jain/ Madhur Bhandarkar
One of the most famous cases of the casting couch, Preeti Jain accused Madhur of raping her in return for role in 2004. After 8 years in court, the case was declared in Bhandarkar’s favor. Madhur had this to say about the whole ordeal;
“It’s embedded in every field, not just the film industry. Our industry is talked about because it’s in the limelight. Also, who are we kidding? Everybody is an adult here. Nothing happens without consent.”
8. Sameera Reddy
She reportedly took a break from bollywood because of the casting couch. Now, she is one of the most famous actresses of South Indian cinema.
“If I deny having had any bad experiences, I would be lying. Every industry has it’s downside, and so does Bollywood. I have certainly had my share of bad experiences. But I have always managed to maintain my stand and command respect.”
9. Payal Rohatgi/Dibakar Banerjee
Another one of bollywoods public cases of the casting couch, Payal accused Dibakar of couching her, and later on giving the role she was promised in Shanghai, to someone else.
Dibakar had a different story, claiming he auditioned and screen tested her as usual, but instead it was her who was sending inappropriate messages to him. Banerjee was not interested in a relationship like that and was definitely not going to cast someone just because he could get sexual favors from them.
10. Shakti Kapoor and Aman Verma
Quite the controversy back in 2005, Shakti Kapoor was caught in a sting operation where a reporter pretending to be a struggling actor, agreed to be couched in exchange for some work in one of Kapoor’s projects. Some evidence had also been gathered, which showed him and Aman Verma in compromising positions with the woman. Just goes to show the casting couch has no bounds.
[Featured Photo Courtesy]