The film industry has been associated with the casting couch for years now, and films like Page 3 (2005) have even touched upon the subject. The ugly demon has reared its head in the fast-growing television industry now, where male actors find themselves being asked to ‘compromise’ more than women.
Actor Barun Sobti, seen in Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon, says, “Most strugglers feel that the casting couch is the only way to get work. Even I was asked to compromise for a role once, but I turned it down and today, I am doing well for myself.” Barun adds that many people are swayed in a weak moment, only to regret it later. “It is more prevalent among guys right now. Or perhaps it’s because stories of guys doing such favours are openly discussed as opposed to incidents involving women.”
Lead actor of the hit show, Diya Aur Baati Hum, Anas Rashid admits that he too was asked for ‘certain favours’. “I handled things smartly as I wasn’t naïve. Teenagers are more susceptible as they feel that this is the norm. While girls can lodge a complaint with the police, guys hardly ever do. Maybe they’re scared of the infamy.”
He feels that there have been a few actors who achieved success via this shortcut, but many others were taken for a ride.
Sidharth Shukla, who recently entered Balika Vadhu, says, “I think it exists in every industry which relies on beauty and glamour. No one is direct and all hints are subtly given. Maybe they’ll ask you out to coffee or dinner. You have to be smart to read between the lines.” He does, however, caution that fabricated stories are spread to defame successful actors.
Pavitra Rishta’s Ritwik Dhanjani agrees, saying, “People have told me stories but as none of my friends have ever encountered anything like this, I find it hard to believe that it really exists.”
I handled things smartly as I wasn’t naïve about it. Teenagers feel that this is the norm.
— Actor Anas Rashid