This is not for the first time but recently Mumbai police have rescued Bollywood strugglers lured in sex racket by the models. Film industry has its own glamour but the other side of the story has a very different and dark side. Earlier, Bollywood was completely male dominated industry and women were given trivial or insignificant roles in the movies and they were also underpaid. With the changing time, female centric movies have proven that the films can fetch market without a hero. Vidya Balan’s films are great examples. She has worked in films that were ‘Heroin’ oriented and male actors had very minor role to do. Industry change with the time and many youngsters are running towards Hindi film industry to make their career. Here, stars the saga of darker side.
These youngsters walk into Bollywood and its colourful fringes — being clueless. They knock various doors. Some get work; some get small role and maximum land in doing odd jobs because returning to home town becomes dilemma to them.
Young boys and girls with dreams arrive in Mumbai by dozens everyday. Only 3% of these strugglers ever make it to the glitzy side of the real Bollywood. However, this depressing statistic never affects the surge of hopefuls who finally don’t even care if they make it in 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. It has been around since the industry began, but what is new is the attitude: do and don’t die.
Most of the youngsters come here to make money than the 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 euphemism for ‘pleasure sessions’. Many rich people and businessmen on pretext of producers 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 financers.
It is not easy to break into Bollywood, if you are not born into a powerful and influential star family. Therefore, aspiring starlets feel the need to develop connections and get themselves a ‘sugar daddy’ in the business that will smooth their ride to the top. With desperate aspirants willing to almost throw themselves at their mercy. Bollywood bigwigs are not shying of exploiting these junior artistes.
Earlier, man was to blame, but now even the girls are ready to go to any length to get work. By putting naked pictures of themselves online or giving direct hint, they give clear understanding for those who wants to hire them.
The Indian media has played a major role in revealing instances of the casting couch in B-town. In a sensational sting operation in 2005, India TV trapped famous Bollywood baddie Shakti Kapoor and TV star Aman Verma. They were caught on tape making advances to a starlet planted by the channel. Last year, actress Rani Mukherji’s brother Raja found himself in the thick of trouble when he was arrested for allegedly molesting a TV actor named Priya Mishra who had approached him with a script. However, the most famous casting couch scandal in B-town could well be a case where the man was wronged. Starlet Preeti Jain created a sensation in 2004, when she accused ace director Madhur Bhandarkar of raping her for many years after making false promises of giving her a film role. The case dragged on for years and finally in 2012, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Bhandarkar and rejected the rape charge. Actress Payal Rohatgi was in the thick of controversy in 2011, when she accused director Dibakar Banerjee of trying to sexually exploit her in exchange for a movie role. Banerjee’s friend, noted filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, jumped into the fray to defend his pal and dismissed Payal as being ‘mentally unstable’. In heartless B-town, it seems even established stars cannot escape persecution.
Well, the narrative of dark side won’t stop here. However, many models and small time artists run sex rackets and flesh trading. They trap strugglers who run out of money and desperately need one. This industry has too many stories of human trading and compromises, which can be published in volume of series.
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