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Aspiring Actors! Beware Of Casting Couch And Sex in Mumbai

Sarah-Jane Dias

Sarah Jane Dias stands tall at 5 feet 9 inches. She is smart, witty, beautiful and has an hourglass figure. The dusky beauty queen, who started out as a VJ, now models and acts in the occasional movie

"I have faced the horror of casting couch situation": Sarah-Jane Dias

"I faced quite a bit of the casting couch situation. I've never really discussed it up until this very conversation..." she continued (Source: This)

Here is another on the casting couch...

The sordid Simran Sood-Vijay Palande episode has brought Bollywood's infamous casting couch under the scanner yet again. While some say that many newcomers continue to encounter it, others maintain that this now takes place more in television and B-grade cinema.

The 'couch' process starts much before an aspirant comes face-to-face with a director or a producer. Toots, who claim direct access to the big boys of Bollywood, accost newcomers outside production houses and then it may be several rounds before the starlet finally gets to meet the person/s who will be deciding on casting her.

Of course, there are directors who defend "genuine" producers, but even they agree that Andheri's Lokhandwala is perhaps the epicenter of Bollywood's casting couch. Even men are not safe. Actor Ranveer Singh is one who "almost fell into the casting couch" during his early days of struggle when he was targeted by a producer, surprisingly known to be a "thorough gentleman".

But the casting couch is far more prevalent in the television industry where actors find themselves dropped from entire episodes if they do not agree to oblige. Stories of youngsters getting exploited-be it for a roof over their heads or a two-bit role in a film - are all over Lokhandwala.

Filmmaker Sudhir Mishra, known for thought-provoking films such as Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, rubbishes talk that the casting couch is rampant. "The Lokhandwala film industry has been infiltrated by fly-by-night producers who exploit newcomers," he says. The real tinsel town, in contrast, has corporate funding, image makeovers, and branding exercises. "The casting couch may be happening in the B-grade industry, not in places where serious cinema is happening," says Mishra, adding that young filmmakers don't exactly need some couch to satisfy their "needs".

Ranveer Singh

Actor Ranveer Singh of Band Baaja Baaraat fame concurs. He talks of how he was propositioned. "A coordinator called me for an audition where three gentlemen directly asked for favors. They kept using words like darling, tu toh bada sexy hai." After rushing out, he did a bit of sleuthing to find out about the coordinator. "No one seemed to know this coordinator. A friend told me that such incidents usually happened in coffee shops, where boys or girls are asked to come to the washroom," adds Ranveer.

The casting couch happens at a lower level, he says. "The stakes are too high for big production houses and they can't jeopardize their image by indulging in such acts."

But ask any struggler in Bollywood and he or she will talk about touts claiming to be casting directors and coordinators moving around in offices of production houses. An old-timer says, "There was a time when this director was making a dozen films in a year and almost every aspiring actor, actress or writer came knocking at his door. Casting coordinators and assistant directors would take advantage of them. They would openly tell the newcomers we will get you a role in the film, but you will have to compromise. Some did manage to get work, but mostly failed, despite the barter."

There have been several instances in the recent past where starlets have leveled charges against some known directors. Casting director Abhijit Singh says, "It may be happening at the assistant director and coordinator level and in the case of smaller films. Most of the big production houses hire character actors through agencies and the main actors deal with them directly. There is a chance if the director likes someone, then he does the deal directly."

Asked if the allegations of the casting couch were being made by starlets to blackmail filmmakers, Mishra says, "The term is used by those who fail. I have only one suggestion to make to anyone who is seriously aspiring to make it in the film industry: if suggestions are made, just slap the person." But seniors insist that casting couch always existed over the years and it has only changed forms. It is said that quite a few top actors and actresses too have been exploited in the past. A source says, "A top director stopped shooting his film after the first schedule and said he would resume shooting only if the lead actress visited him at his Madh Island bungalow. The actress didn't have any choice but to go. Today she is a big star."
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1 comment:

  1. sir how can we escape from these people?........in an audition


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