Bollywood has once again been struck by the casting couch scandal. In the net is actor Rani Mukherji’s brother, producer Raja Mukherji, who was arrested in Mumbai’s Versova on Sunday after TV actor Priya Mishra pressed molestation charges on him. According to Mishra, she had gone to meet Mukherji, 39, to narrate a script. “The woman had gone to show Raja Mukherjee a script. He tried to molest her in the car,” ACP Narsingh Sherkhan was quoted as saying.
Priya, who is also an aspiring director, wanted to cast Rani Mukherji in her film, for which she had approached Raja, who has made TV shows like Kehkashan and Aanchal. Following the complaint, Mukherji was sent for a medical checkup and taken into custody. At the time of going to press, he was expected to be produced in court. According to sources, Rani is in Mumbai and discussing the legal course.
Bollywood starlets say that casting couch has become rampant in the industry, especially because more women are willing to give in. “Casting couch has always been there. Earlier, it was the man who was to blame, but now even the girls are ready to go to any length to get work. By putting naked pictures of themselves online what else are they asking for?” says actor Sambhavna Seth. “Girls in the industry have been exploited since the beginning, but now even the men in the industry are facing this. It is sad that we have to live in this kalyug,” says starlet Rakhi Sawant.
Bollywood’s first big casting couch scandal was in 2004, when starlet Priti Jain had alleged that filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar had raped her repeatedly on the pretext of giving her a film role. Last year, struggling actor Yuvraaj Parashar had given an interview in which he claimed that director Onir sexually assaulted him when he went to his house to show him a film he had worked in. However, he later withdrew the charges.
Raja (right) with Rani Mukerji and Yash Chopra.