Every day Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey must be waking up—provided they get any sleep at all—wondering who’s going to accuse them of sexual misconduct next .
Scores of women and men have come out accusing these two stalwarts of rape/harassment/groping/grabbing/licking….whatever.Someone should do a book on Weinstein’s sexual exploits. It would be bigger than all his films put together.
While Hollywood has blown apart the lid on the casting couch syndrome, in Bollywood the malpractice remains prevalent, although newcomers only speak about it in hushed whispers.There is this young powerful producer with a beautiful wife . He “auditions” young actresses, right under his wife’s nose.
“The wife knows what he is doing, the young upcoming girls who sleep with him to get roles know what he is doing…He has a simple deal with all the aspiring actresses.Iss haath se do aur uss haath se lo(give and take). The modus operandi has been in place for many years now. No one has spoken about his carnal carnival as yet.”
We hear from personnel within this roving-eyed groping-limbed producer’s organization that he has decided to be “very careful very discreet” after theWeinstein expose.Whether this means he won’t ask strugglers for sexual favours or simply that he would un-install the CCTC cameras in his luxurious office(which includes a plush double bed) is not known.
Then there is the ‘swach’ superstar who poses with his intelligent and beautiful wife as the face of New India but in actuality he has his little furtive flings and one-night stands with his very young co-stars right under his no-nonsense wife’s nose.
“Oh, she knows about his flings. She chooses to ignore them,” says a source.
Years ago way back in the 1970s an actor-director known to play patriotic protagonists was notorious for hitting on his heroines.He would get drunk and dial his heroines in the middle of the night.
Recalled Hema Malini, “I thought it was only me. Then I mentioned it to another actress and she said she also got his calls and she said she spoke to another actress who has worked with him. She too got the same calls.”
Then there was the movie moghul known to discover heroines who went on to be top actresses of their time. He wanted to…errrr…spend quality time with all of them. Most of them fled from his field of activity after being launched by him.
Why don’t the women of Bollywood speak against the Weinstein Syndrome in our entertainment industry?
Says actress Tapsee Pannu, “The ones who have gone through it(the sexual harassment) must speak.And if they aren’t speaking about it, they would know best why they are silent.Personally I’v never gone through such a situation so I’ve no idea on how this works.”
Adds Gauhar Khan, “I have never really had the opportunity to even meet someone who has gone through something like this.So I’d be the wrong person to comment on it.”
Adds Dia Mirza, “I’ve been a part of this entertainment industry for 20 years. I’ve seen how ambitious youngsters avail of sexual favours to make their way up the ladder, not realizing that the short cuts are never a dependable route to success. Why should the onus of such youngsters’ moral compromise only be on the exploitative elements in the entertainment industry? If you are old enough to seek job opportunities you are old enough to know when you are being told to compromise for the sake of the opportunities. After that the choice is entirely yours. I never took that route of seeking favours by being ‘nice’ to people who matter. For this I’ve been called boring. I refuse to see that epithet as an insult. I wear it as a badge of honour.”
Not too many actresses have spoken out against the casting couch. Radhika Apte has spoken about it.
In an interview the starlet Surveen Chawla gave to me she spoke about her tryst with the casting couch. “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.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.”
What about those aspiring entertainers who do not have the moral strength to Say, thanks but no thanks? What happens when they do not get their favours after granting sexual favours? Many of them turn around and holler rape.Ask Madhur Bhandarkar about it.