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No sex no work

It has been referred to often over the years, but now an actor confirms “there is a casting couch in Bollywood”. Suchitra Krishnamurthy recounts her own experiences.

entertainment Updated: Sep 04, 2009 10:22 IST

SuchitraIt has been referred to often over the years, but now an actor confirms "there is a casting couch in Bollywood". Recounting her own experiences, Suchitra Krishnamurthy says she had the strength to say ‘no’, when a director made improper advances, but that other actors may not have done so.

She was in her teens when she found herself in a hotel room with a “successful producer” who told her that if she had to become an actress, she had to “do it”. Years later, actress Suchitra Krishnamurthy, ex wife of director Shekhar Kapoor, has spoken out on her blog about how she became a victim of casting couch while trying for a film role.

Suchitra, who debuted in Bollywood opposite Shah Rukh Khan in Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, wrote: “He [the producer] asked me who I am closer to — my mother or my father? ‘My father,’ I smiled. ‘My mother is a little strict.’ He nodded and smiled. ‘Ok, phone your father,’ he smiled. I asked defiantly, ‘Why should I phone my father?’

‘Relax,’ he told me smiling, a peculiar look creeping into his eyes. I was too young to understand the expression. ‘If you want, I tell him to pick you up tomorrow morning from my hotel,’ he added. The producer said, ‘…So and so and so (he named some top actresses of that time) she do it. She do it and even she do it! They are my discovery. Everybody has to do it.’” Suchitra told HT City, “I was merely recounting my experience on my blog. I was fortunate, I could make the choices I did. I don’t have to work a single day if I don’t want to, because I am looked after. How many girls have that liberty?”

Casting couch is the ugly side of Bollywood. Suchitra isn’t the only one to have experienced it. Bhairavi Goswami, who debuted in Bheja Fry, has earlier recounted how during an audition, a girl stripped and lay on the couch telling the director, ‘you can ask the other girls to leave’. Bhairavi, however, doesn’t want to speak about it now. “I don’t want to recall something that happened four years ago,” she said.