Several actresses in the Indian film industry have been a victim of sexual harassment. Time and again, the actresses have spoken up against casting couch and harassment. Previously, #MeToo movement hit the headlines which exposed some popular names from several professional fields across the country.
With feminism and women empowerment becoming the most-talked subjects, actresses have become more open about prevalent issues. With the MeToo movement encouraging several women to share their ordeal of sexual abuse at the workplace, the film industry is also no exception.
Casting couch is something that has been happening behind the scenes and it is not at all a new concept rather it is as old as our civilization. People started noticing it very recently. Several actresses have been a victim of harassment in the Film Industry as well.
The casting couch is a practice of asking sexual favours from a job applicant in exchange for a job in the entertainment industry, especially acting roles. Casting couch originally referred to physical couches in the casting office. This practice is termed illegal in the United States.
Male casting directors, as well as, film producers use the casting couch in a bid to extract sex from ambitious actresses in Hollywood, Bollywood and other segments of the cinema industry.
Recently, a TV actress by the name of Sonal Vengurlekar revealed how she compromised with directors to get roles. She shared her shocking sexual harassment encounter. When she was just 19 years old back then, the photographer and casting director Raja Bajaj attempted to forcibly remove her clothes claiming he could teach her Tantrik vidya for getting successful overnight. He also rubbed cream on her breasts forcibly much to her horror, as per India Today.
While talking to Bombay Time she said, “This was when I had started giving auditions and chanced upon an opportunity on a casting website. I called on the number mentioned on the site and was told by the person to come for an audition in Borivali.
The man happened to be TV actress Sheena Bajaj’s father, Raja Bajaj. I gave the audition, but couldn’t deliver the dialogues well since I was untrained. He told me that I have a good face, but needed to have a better understanding of the profession and suggested that I assist him on a shoot.”
At first, she was asked to try on some outfits despite her not being part of the shoot. After that, a cream was forcibly applied on her breasts, leaving her in shock.
“After some time, he told me to try out a couple of outfits, though I wondered why he asked me to try out those outfits when the shoot was with another model. He had a bottle of cream in his hand and told me to apply it on my breasts before wearing those, as that would help in giving them a proper shape. Much to my horror, he came forward and applied the cream on my breasts forcibly. I got scared and ran away. What made the situation even scarier was that no one from my family was with me,” she said.