Talentube.com, an online placement agency for "strugglers" in the entertainment industry - the blunt term for newcomers - will start operating on April 30.
Its founders say that it will be the first large-scale attempt to professionalise recruiting in this sector, whose sordid side has been exposed again with the murders of Arunkumar Tikoo, whose son is an aspiring actor, and Karan Kakad, an aspiring producer, and the arrests of Simran Sood, a model looking to become an actress, and Vijay Palande, who worked in a restaurant frequented by Bollywood players.
Supported by directors such as Mahesh Manjrekar, Sudhir Mishra and Sangeeth Sivan, the agency will build a database both of aspiring actors, singers, dancers as well as of positions available. Unlike the sector's existing agencies, which are largely small operations with few ground rules, talenttube.com will operate in a transparent manner, say its founders. Applicants can register for a small fee, of not more than Rs1,000, and then send in their work, which a panel of experts will screen before finally setting up interviews.
"We found that the casting couch is very much a reality - for both women and men. With our portal, job seekers do not have meet anyone until the final stages, thereby minimising the chances of exploitation," said Vinod Nair, one of the three founders. Nair and the other two founders, Ravi Nagpurkar, an MBA from Duke University, and Rakesh Sreekumar, an MBA from XLRI, have already identified 25,000 people whom directors and other talent seekers feel are the cream of the aspirants.