This year eight days of Navratri gone without glamour and Raas, people had to control their thrill cravings and got in a private event zone. COVID threat has faded every festival including this festival of joy. Navratri is not only the event but also a source of income for many. From fashion designers, tattoo makers to struggling models and beauty parlours this was a moneymaking month.
Navratri brings a lot of innovations and inventions like backless cholis, late-night merriment, drugs, alcohol, and a strong hint of sexual intimacy. It is in the air; it is in the music and the attires; it is in the sensuous dance, as the Raas – a form of Garba performed by all ages. From teenage girls who bank on Navratri for escapades with boyfriends to some young girls who make a quick buck out of the mood to middle-aged married women willing to pay a bomb for teenage escorts – the forbidden fruit is ever-present and basks in the glory of the nine festive nights of Navratri.
On the other hand, those strugglers in the film and modelling industry get lured into the flesh trade; they become contractual partners for outsiders who land up in glossy cities to spend their celebration nights. While none of this is new, but this year the Navratri was not much visible. Above all the constant raids by cops and NCB has taken out the sheen of this dance festival.
Lockdown and unemployment in the modelling and film industry guided many strugglers to escorting business. Many middle-aged women get young men to escort them for the night at private parties. While this happens around the year under wraps, during Navratri, this clan gets the gusto to wear their ‘able-bodied’ gains on their sleeve and flaunt them.
These models are paid 500 to 50000 depending on their body, fame, and performance. And unabashed fun is not limited to the elderly. For the young ones, Garbha provides a good excuse to sneak out and have fun. But sadly, they had to struggle this year.
Whereas the glamour industry is concerned, many aspiring actresses, struggling models, and side dances have pushed themselves to flesh trading. Many have joined those friendship clubs where the choices are picked up for one-night stands. Navratri used to be the earning event for these girls and guys because rich celebrities and business tycoons hire them as escorts.
This year even the wedding season was a low-key affair, so the business of attending weddings as paid hosts was also a remote chance. These youngsters walk into Bollywood and its colourful fringes — being clueless. They knock on various doors; some get some work, some get some role and maximum land up doing what they never thought of, because returning becomes a dilemma.
Young boys and girls with starry dreams arrive by the dozens every day. Only 3% of these strugglers ever make it to the glitzy side of the real Bollywood, but this depressing statistic never affects the surge of hopefuls who finally don’t even care if they make it in the film as long as they find some way of earning. In the struggle for perceived stardom and the mirage of megabucks, ethics and so-called societal values have no place. They call themselves aspiring models or aspiring actors as soon as they disembark in Mumbai. Bollywood’s sordid underside is not news anymore and is a matter of great concern.
Those who genuinely want a career in film and those who want to use their looks to make money. Most of the youngsters come here to make more money than a career. The struggle for the ‘strugglers’ begins right at the beginning — finding a roof in Mumbai to feed them and commute three big challenges. Their needs increase as the pockets get stretched, to fill this gap they force themselves to work in all those zones where money can be earned.
Given this parallel industry, for the genuine ones, it is often a struggle to ensure that one is not taken for a ride. Such as routine fake auditions, there are coordinators who come to offer help but with ulterior motives, auditions are sometimes euphemisms for ‘pleasure sessions’. Many moneyed people check out young, good-looking men and women through such auditions. Many strugglers are called often for parties and pleasure by some so-called socialists and film financiers.
With desperate aspirants willing to almost throw themselves at everyone’s mercy. According to insiders, things have only become more rampant of late because of the willingness of starlets to give in. One has to seriously think about this ongoing trend that has lured many youngsters in the flesh trade for the extra perks.