While Bollywood is a lot about glamour and exposure, there are also issues like unsafe environment for women, that do not always come up. Everyone deserves a workplace that is safe, and it’s easier to point out issues when there’s a set-up for accountability. But, that doesn’t happen when people think that they can abuse power.
In case of the film industry, actresses have had to deal with issues like casting couch or instances where someone with authority made sexual advances.
1. Swara Bhaskar
In a panel discussion, the actress opened about being abused by a director. She even mentioned how it took years for her to realize or recognize that it was harassment at workplace, because we’re used to shrugging off ‘certain behavioral patterns’.
I would just tell myself that this director is being… whatever, but that is not the truth. The director was not being an idiot or an ass, he was being a predator.
2. Richa Chadha
Richa Chadha not only spoke about casual sexism, but also issues like casting couch. In an interview, she had opened up about being ‘suggestively’ asked out for dinner, and then being insisted after saying ‘no’. The actress also mentioned that she dealt with such situations even after becoming an established actor, where the person making advances was more powerful.
3. Kalki Koechlin
The actress had talked about sexual abuse in Bollywood, and how people turn a blind eye to actresses who are struggling or are just starting off. She added that a lot of women also choose not to open up because their careers are on line, which can also be compromised.
People don’t listen to you if you’re a nobody. If you’re a celebrity and you talk about it, it only becomes a shocking headline.
4. Prachi Desai
Prachi Desai had shared an incident where she was asked for sexual favors in return for a role in a ‘big film’. After the actress turned down the film, the director even went on to call her again. She had mentioned that the advances were blatant in her situation.
5. Chitrangda Singh
In 2016, the actress had walked out of a film, Babumoshai Bandookbaaz because of an uncomfortable experience on the sets. Chitrangda Singh openly discussed how the director forced her into doing intimate scenes, that were unnecessary and did not go with her character.
6. Tisca Chopra
Tisca Chopra had shared her experience of dealing with casting couch in a storytelling session with Kommune. She mentioned how a director she was working with, called her up to his hotel room in pretext of discussing the script, which was not his intent. However, she literally had to plan a way out of the situation.
7. Aahana Kumra
When the #MeToo movement gained momentum in Bollywood, a lot of actresses opened up about incidents of abuse in the film industry. Aahana Kumra also talked about facing it with director Sajid Khan, where she was escorted to his room for a meeting and asked uncomfortable questions. The actress had also shared another incident with Anirban Blah, who suggested ‘discussing negotiations’ in a hotel room.
8. Mallika Sherawat
In an interview, the actress elaborated on why she wasn’t getting enough work. She mentioned that people, and even actors expect actresses to ‘compromise’. This meant that she was expected to be in total control of them, which had an impact on her career after she refused to such advances.
If the hero calls you at 3 AM and says, “Come to my house”, you have to go, if you are in that circle and if you are doing that film. If you don’t go, then you are out of the film.
It’s almost scary knowing that people assume that they can abuse their power or even turn a blind eye to harassment. Nobody deserves to not feel respected or safe at a place of work, doing something that they love.