Time and again Bollywood celebrities have spoken up about their unsavoury experience of casting couch and how they have been asked for sexual favours in exchange for big breaks in the industry. Recently, actress Surveen Chawla opened up about her horrific experiences. Surveen appeared on a celebrity chat show and revealed how she had to face it multiple times in the entertainment industry, both in Bollywood and down south.
The actor made her television debut with Ekta Kapoor’s Kahiin To Hoga in 2003. Calling her auditions for the show a “cakewalk”, she admitted that the biggest challenge was the silver screen. Recalling one of the experiences Surveen said, “Then came south and that was my biggest blow. I faced casting couch thrice. There was a time I was told to accompany a film director for a recce and I was told ‘I want to know every inch of your body’. I just started ignoring calls from then on.”
Surveen remembered the one time when she went for an audition for a film being directed by a National award-winning director. Talking about the incident, she said she had to come back to Mumbai soon after the audition as she was not feeling well. To her surprise, she got a call from the director offering to come to Mumbai just because she wasn’t feeling well. Surveen admitted that she found the entire incident very creepy.
Another time, she was told that the director wanted to 'understand' her till the time the film was being shot. “That person told me on the phone that ‘sir needs to know you, he needs to understand you as this film will take a long time to make’. And then he jumped to ‘only till the film and then you can stop’. I very innocently asked him ‘stop what’. So, he said ‘just till the film this will go on; then you can stop’. I still remember my words. I told him that you are knocking on the wrong door. If sir thinks I am talented then I am still willing to work in his film but I cannot barter myself. And that film also didn’t happen,” said Surveen.
According to Surveen, things are pretty much the same even in the Hindi film industry. “One filmmaker wants to see how my cleavage looks and one filmmaker wants to see how my thighs looked. This kind of stuff happens,” she added.
Surveen also talked about body shaming in the industry and said there was a time when she was called “overweight” for weighing 56 kg.
Casting couch has plagued the industry for years, but with more and more actors choosing to go on record and talk about it, the problem has become more apparent. It's great that women (and men) in the industry are coming out and talking about the sexual harassment they face without the fear of being judged.
Apart from Surveen, actors Kalki Koechlin, Ranveer Singh, Mallika Sherawat and Ayushmann Khurrana have also been vocal in the past about the existence of casting couch in the industry.
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