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When will Bollywood Speak Up Against Its Harvey Weinsteins?

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.

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