The hopelessness and the quest to fulfill one’s dream on one side, and the surplus amount of power and contacts on the other, together formulate the concept of what we infamously called casting couch. Casting couch is the trading of sexual favors by an aspirant, apprentice employee, or subordinate to a superior in return for entry into an occupation, or for other career advancement within an organization.
Sometimes it is consensual driven by ambition and thirst for a chance, while many a times it takes the ugly face of sexual harassment and intimidation by a superior.
The celebrities who have now achieved certain stature wherein they don’t need the helping hand (or a much more helping sexual organ), have spoken in media regarding the harassment and sexual advances they had to go through before making it big in the industry. Actors like Ranveer Singh, Ayushman Khurrana, Kangana Ranaut, Surveen Chawla, Tisca Chopra and Radhika Apte have come forth and used their voices to make aspirants aware of the stories of their casting couch incidents.
While now they find it easy to talk about it because of their accomplishments, prior to such a stance, they were constantly hoarded and ‘pursued’ by casting agents, directors, writers for sexual favors tinting it with subtle amount of intimidation and threat.
After all, who is there to protect them from these power vultures who have firmly established their wings over the industry? Is there any justice to casting couch stories, or ignorance is always the way to go? Apart from creating awareness about such an act, is there anything else up their sleeve to abolish the act or tarnish the reputation of someone who have used his stature to exploit many newcomers?
Many a times, a struggling actress is asked to spread her legs to get her share of fame or a chance to showcase her talent. In the cut-throat industry of Bollywood, where many travel every day to Mumbai to fulfill their aspirations, casting couch is a (not so) sure-shot to achieve stardom.
Casting couch is nothing but fulfillment of one’s sexual desire over the vulnerability of other. Where Bollywood is fighting over their creative rights which are curbed by CBFC, why is there no authoritative voice echoing the occurrence of casting couch? Undoubtedly, this is one occurrence which doesn’t distinguish between genders, this advancement attacks one and all.
The film industry has enticed us all, the glamour, the lavishness, the fame, the importance; everything has demanded our attention so much so that we all have dreamt of being part of a privileged sector.
But, as many would say, the grass is greener on the other side but apparently, the grass is much more than just green, it is encompassed with those slithering snakes that vow not just to scare you away but also to exploit you. They slither away to ruin you of your dignity and body, showing you false dreams while they fulfill their un-catered sexual ones. They slowly suffocate your existence, making one feel dirty and used; they thrive on your helplessness and your desperate need to prove yourself to the world. Yes, they do exist, not for the better but only for the worst.