It’s an indecent proposal and quid pro quo of exploitative kind. The young, starry-eyed girls who dream of Bollywood fame find themselves jolted to sordid reality when a producer, director or actor asks them to warm their beds in return for a dream role.
Casting couch has remained a much-debated subject in Hindi film industry, with some denying it outright while others claiming that the ugly truth is often swept under the carpet. Madhur Bhandarkar, Shakti Kapoor, Aman Verma and director Onir have found themselves at the receiving end of accusations of having not just made the indecent proposal but, in some cases, sexually exploiting the girl in question. Jury is still out on how much truth is there in the accusations or the denials.
Payal Rohatgi has raised the spectre of sex-for-role bargain again by accusing director Dibakar Banerjee of having asked her to take her top off when she auditioned for a role for his upcoming film Shanghai.
Rohatgi claims that she and Dibakar became friends over time and she was shocked when he allegedly made the indecent proposal. She claims that she did not get the role in the film because she refused to submit to Banerjee’s demand. Banerjee, on the other hand, claims that Payal isn’t in a sound state of mind and he never made any such proposal. He admits helping her in times of her personal crisis, but claims that Payal is maligning him by the casting couch accusation because she was rejected for the role.
It’s a strange debauched world out in B-town where principles are compromised for lust - be it of physical gratification or fame. Hard to know how much truth lies therein, but it’s worth our while to take a look at a brief history of casting couch controversies that have rocked Bollywood from time to time.