Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan’s recent comments on the casting couch culture prevalent in the industry have caused quite a stir.
“Casting couch provides livelihood. Taking advantage of a girl is done with her consent. Women are not sexually abused and dumped. They are given livelihood,” Khan said, reacting to a question about Telugu actress Sri Reddy stripping to protest against Tollywood’s casting couch culture.
Khan said the casting couch culture has helped performers with their careers and that in most cases it was done with consent.
Quite a number of people soon took to Twitter to express their disappointment over Khan’s statements.
Singer Sophie Choudry wrote: “WTH?!!!! So much respect for Saroj-ji as a choreographer but this is how she uses her position to protect girls?!!! If I didn’t come from a financially sound background I would have returned to London within a month of being in mumbai cos of “industry folk” who think like that!!
“Can’t begin to think what thousands of girls go through in the hope that their “dreams” will come true! Nobody wants to sleep with someone for work. But they are made to feel it’s the only way & “acceptable”. And for those who don’t, it’s a tough road! This has to stop! #TimesUp.”
In the past few years, quite a number of celebrities have been opening up about Indian film industry’s casting couch culture.
A few years ago, actress Tisca Chopra detailed her experience saying she was approached by a big time filmmaker whom she referred to as “RP or Reptile.” After seeing Chopra, RP told her, “You need to learn how to walk in heels. You need a manicure and you need to do a spa for your hair. And you need to learn how to ooze.”
One day, after directing her in an intimate scene, RP told her, “So, let’s meet in my room for dinner. We’ll discuss the script.” Although she went to the filmmaker’s hotel room, she escaped with her dignity intact.
Besides Chopra, actor Ranveer Singh, Ileana D’Cruz and Richa Chadha have also been vocal about being approached for sexual favours.