Bollywood's sleaze out in open
The casting couch controversy rears its ugly head again. Blog
Ouch! Bollywood’s casting couch is in news again. Gossip mag editors are popping the bubbly, as the can of worms spills over on television.
In a nutshell: Suhaib Illyasi — he of India’s Most Wanted fame — has caught Shakti Kapoor on camera, making indecent propositions to a girl who poses as a wannabe actor. What Kapoor tells the girl in the recorded video is broadly this: Rani Mukerji could make it big because she has slept with bigwigs like Yash Chopra, Preity Zinta has slept with producer Yash Johar, Aishwarya Rai doled out sexual favours to Subhash Ghai. So, if she consents to having sex with him, he’ll help her bag plum assignments, he further tells her.
In reaction to the video, Kapoor says he has “been framed”. And industrywallahs have their bytes in order. “Such instances are outrageous,” says Mahesh Bhatt. “If someone uses his position to impose his desire on an unwilling person, it’s wrong. There is a law against sexual harassment, true, but evidence is hard to gather. The only deterrent could be public outrage.” He doesn’t grudge the media for splashing such cases: “This is a sensation-evoking age. News is all about moving from one scandal to another. As long as the media reports such scandals truthfully, what’s wrong?”
Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar, whose Page 3 touched Bollywood’s seamy side and who himself faces a similar charge (see box below), says: “You can’t accuse the film fraternity as a whole. These are individual incidents that happen in every profession. Film folks are written about because they are constantly in the limelight.” Shakti Kapoor’s career isn’t going anywhere right now. Maybe, being written about could help.