Monday, April 03, 2006

Is casting couch a myth?

You've probably wondered if there's any truth to all the malicious stories of casting couches. It's ironical that very often we've been exposed to such stories mainly through movies where sleazy directors entice struggling actors about the advantages of "satisfying" them for a meaty role in a film. In fact, Ram Gopal Verma's lead in Naach (played by Antara Mali) faces such perverse advances from a film director who has uncanny resemblance to Subhash Gai.

Despite open talks and discussions about the existance of the casting couch, when these stories attain a realistic picture through the media-eye, the film fraternity conveniently adorns a saintly image and denies that such cheap tricks exist in their profession. Many TV channels have time and again caught actors, directors and such, shamelessly asking for sexual favours in exchange for a large chunk of stardom. We've seen Shakti Kapoor say (on India TV) that everyone from top-notch heroines to freshies are involved in this scam for quick fame. But when the skeletons come out of the closet, the filmwallas hide, blaming the press for shoddy reportage.

In another incident Priti Jain accused film director Madhur Bhandarkar of taking "advantage" of her in turn for roles in his films. But everyone blamed the woman for falsely accusing the "innocent" man. I admit that some of Priti's actions were questionable, but no one failed to investigate the core problem of whether there was any truth to her allegations. Result, the man walked away free.

A recent press clip accused film director Dharmesh Dharshan of making a "pass" at a 22-year-old assistant. Soon after the report hit the newstands, many actors and directors came forward to defend the director and blamed the boy for spreading evil rumours. A popular actor claimed it was all a lie and no one can force a 22-year-old to do anything immoral and such acts do exist only if both parties are "willing". Well, these actors should realise that such acts are forced and the victims often helpless. And the age of the victim has little role to play in the crime.

Often, in such accusations, there are no concrete proof and it's only one man's word against the other. The senior artistes know better to shut up than stick up against a famous director who could ruin his/her film career. They'd prefer to deny its existance rather than save a fellow worker from harassment. Each to his own as no one has the will to save someone!

It's this blind denial that leaves the victims helpless. The victims are eventually transformed into the culprits... with motives of defaming a director for not giving him a specific role.

But unless someone comes out with the truth, we can only 'blindly' watch the fun!


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