The casting couch, commonly known in the West as hard audition, is becoming more and more common in Bollywood. The underworld demand favour, the producers, directors and even the technicians line up these days in the darkness of privacy.
Actor and small-screen superstar Shekhar Suman says all those who deny the existence of the casting couch in showbiz are lying. According to him, the Bollywood-underworld nexus is also a fact.
It is all there and very common. The policy is do not ask and do not tell! No body forces any one.It is just an understood norm in Hindi film industry to keep every one happy for smooth sail to the top! However, till recently this well-known feature of Bollywood was employed against the girls in the industry…or so it was thought. Now the cat is fully out of the bag.
Only few months back Sonu Nigam, a top-notch playback singer for Hindi movies, created a furore by saying that men are not safe in Bollywood. He had opened a Pandora’s box which had caught the attentions of many people. He accused senior film journalist Subhash K Jha of harassing him for sexual favours in return for publicity. In the words of Sonu himself, ‘There was a time when women were under constant sexual subjugation but now it’s the turn of the men to bear the brunt.’ Sonu is currently in the US to be with his newly born son and wife Madhurima. He is believed to have received threatening calls, and apparently the caller has told him that he would be killed when he comes back to Mumbai! On the other hand, Subhash K Jha said that he will go to court and file a case against the singer.
Cashing in on the new trend of male exploitation is a film titled ‘Anubhav’ that portrays the male casting couch in the industry. Though Bollywood movies have often portrayed women as objects of sexual exploitation, sexual exploitation of men has rarely been touched upon.
‘This film is close to reality, not just about the male casting couch but also the hardship an actor has to go through,’ said actor Sanjay Suri, who is playing the lead in Anubhav.
Veteran filmmaker from the south, Rajeev Nath, who won a National Award in 2000 for best director of Malayalam film Jhanani, is directing the film.
‘Anubhav is based on the life of a theatre actor who dreams of carving a niche in Bollywood. But he ends up as a victim of sexual exploitation and turns into a gigolo,’ said Nath.
‘Sexual exploitation is seen more in the metros. So, the film also shows how the actor ends up serving lonely widows and desperate housewives to make both ends meet.’
Other actors in the movie include Gul Panag and Sudha Chandran. Anubhav is all set to release this August and will also be screened at the Osian Cinefan film festival.
However, some actors like Ajay Devgan see this entire phenomenon of male casting couch as the fabrication of some news channels to improve their TRP ratings. Even veteran directors like Subhash Ghai have strongly denied the unhealthy nexus between directors, producers, creative directors and budding actors who are forced to compromise for that much promised ‘break’ in the film industry. Still, its an open secret that asking for sexual favours and molestation of an upcoming model to be launched as the most promising newcomer (female) in Bollywood is passe now. It’s the men who are in danger !!!