The dark side of show business: Mumbai-based actor accused of cyber-stalking
The recent arrest of a 24-year-old actress for allegedly cyber-stalking a 20-year-old didn’t make headlines because neither of them are well-known in the industry, but contained in this case are hints of the toxic atmosphere within India’s booming television industry.
On September 25, a 24-year-old actress came to Aarey police station, accompanied by her husband, to surrender herself. For the past five days, the police had been looking for her after a 20-year-old actress had complained that the 24-year-old had been cyber-stalking her and making defamatory comments against her on social media. The police’s initial probe suggests the two friends turned foes while competing for a role in a TV serial. While the complainant’s decision to file charges against her friend is unusual, the rivalry between them points to the unhealthy competition within the industry. “Many actors, established and strugglers, bad-mouth their peers in order to get an upper hand,” said an industry insider on condition of anonymity. “Actors expose secrets of their co-stars to the media and their team members in an attempt to humiliate or embarrass their co-star. At auditions, newcomers try to pull down their competition and even tell vicious lies about their ‘friends’, just so that they don’t get the role.”
Mumbai has long been the city of dreams for show business aspirants, but the growth in the television entertainment industry in the past decade has meant more ‘strugglers’ flocking to the city because they hope to get their break in one of the many serials that are being churned out of Goregaon sound stages.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2018-2022, India is projected as the tenth-largest market in terms of revenue in 2022. A 2018 report by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) found serialised dramas, or soaps, top the popularity ratings for rural audiences and rank second for urban audiences. The report also calculated that Hindi general entertainment channels reach 499 million people every week.
As the industry has grown, so has the competition. “My casting head meets thousands of aspirants every month, but only four or five make it in a year,” said producer-writer Vikas Gupta.
Actor Shashank Vyas of Balika Vadhu fame remembers giving 275 auditions in 18 months before he landed a small role in a serial as a newcomer. Last month, actor Krrip Kapur Suri thought he’d got a role in the show Udann, but on his way to set, he found that he had been replaced by actor Mohammad Nazim, of Saath Nibhana Saathiya fame.
With little by way of a support or a reliable mental health infrastructure, the reality check that show business delivers can push people towards unreasonable, abusive behaviour. In case of the recently-arrested actress, she has been charged with Sections 354 (D, stalking) and 67A (punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act, etc., in electronic form) of the IT Act. “She was remanded to judicial custody on Thursday and later granted bail,” said a police officer.
Tibba police busted a honey-trap racket and arrested four persons, including two women, on Saturday. One of the members of the gang has yet to be caught, the police said. The FIR against them has been registered on the complaint of Nagendra Yadav of New Vijay Nagar. A fabric manufacturer, Yadav, told the police that he runs a factory near Puneet Nagar. On Friday evening, he was going to his factory on a scooter.
Bringing relief from the scorching heat, the thunderstorm witnessed in the city on Saturday evening turned the weather pleasant. Partly cloudy weather prevailed in the city since morning and rains, along with strong winds, brought down the mercury levels in the evening. As per the meteorological department, Chandigarh, the maximum temperature in the city was recorded at 40 degrees Celsius while the minimum was 27 degrees.
Division number 8 police have booked an employee of a jewellery shop for allegedly stealing items worth lakhs on Friday. Akash has been identified as Akash of Chaura Bazaar. The FIR has been registered following the statement of Lalit Chopra of Rishi Nagar. The complainant said that on Friday, they were present in the store and were attending to customers.
The joint co-coordinator of Kisan Congress, a wing of All India Congress Committee, has been booked for hurting religious sentiments by cleaning a statue of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi installed in a park in Salem Tabri with Gursimran Singh Mand's turban. The action against Gursimran Singh Mand has been taken around 10 months after the incident. Mand had reached the spot and cleaned the statue with his turban, which sparked a row.
The cybercrime wing of Punjab Police has issued an advisory to mobile phone users to be cautious of fraudsters who have found new ways to trap and dupe people. These fraudsters pose as officers and dupe people by sending them suspicious links on WhatsApp. Three such cases have been reported in Ludhiana in the past 45 days wherein fraudsters duped people by impersonating officials. The police have solved only one case till now.