ecently, Tanushree accused Nana Patekar of harassing her on the sets of movie Horn ‘Ok’ Pleassss in 2008. Many actresses and journalists backed her accusations, asserting to be an eyewitness of the incident. She also alleged that filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri had told her to remove her clothes and dance with Irrfan Khan to act on the sets of Chocolate. She said that Irrfan Khan and Sunil Shetty stood up for her during this episode. Well, you may call it a publicity stunt or whatsoever suits you, but, actresses getting harassed is not new to the film industry. Casting couch is a very famous term that is defined as demanding of sexual favours by an employer or person in a position of power and authority, from an apprentice employee or subordinate to a superior in return for entry into the film. The term ‘Casting Couch’ originated in the motion picture industry, with specific reference to couches in offices that could be used for sexual activity between casting directors or film producers and aspiring actors. Many have gone vocal about the abuse and others just kept quiet. Let it be Kangana Ranaut getting harassed by Pancholi or Tanushree getting hassled by Nana, there are thousands of such stories to expose these so-called big actors. Just because Nana Patekar is a celebrity actor and Tanushree is out of the film industry, you cannot judge her and refute the accusations made by her.
Tanushree confirmed that Nana Patekar called the MNS (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) party to bash up her car. He was behind everything and was supported by choreographer Ganesh Acharya too. In a video from 2008, that went viral on the Internet, goons are seen thrashing Tanushree’s car. In the video, a journalist caught the limelight when he was thrashing the car’s windshield with his camera. Later, he even went to puncture Tanushree’s car’s tyres. The journalist in the video was Pawan Bharadwaj. He arrived at the studio to cover the song shoot. Tanushree Dutta has alleged that when she did not give in to Nana Patekar’s unwanted advances on the sets, he restored to violence against her by his fans and supporters. In an exclusive interview last week, she claimed that members of the party stormed the set and became violent. This was happening in full view of hundreds of media persons and channels, it’s documented. Though, the men and the partners in crime, Nana Patekar, those journalists and Vivek Agnihotri the director, all got together to attack the actress when she exposed them on the national media. Nana’s team is perpetrating a “lie” that the attack was instigated by her team to “cover up” and “justify” what really happened they all are spreading lies to cover up and justify the heinous nature of the attack. That lie is still being perpetrated.
The term is now often used to refer to other industries besides entertainment, though careers that are highly desirable and traditionally difficult to break into, such as the movie, television and music industries have been the subject of casting couch stories in popular culture. Such trading of favours is an abuse of power — sometimes even statutory rape — and can become a wider sex scandal if deemed newsworthy.
Women in the Indian film industry among several share stories of sexual assault and harassment. All of them said that the mass unmasking of abusers in the media and entertainment worlds of Bollywood was long overdue in India – but were doubtful such a reckoning would occur any time soon in the world’s largest producer of films. The casting couch is one of Indian cinema’s most open secrets.
People try to insinuate that there are 10,000 girls for one role – so what can you do? They make situations uncomfortable and load choices in a way where if women want to get ahead, you have to do certain things. If someone resists the “casting couch”, it cost them work. Male producers, directors, and actors have the power to make and break these women’s careers, and so routinely and aggressively proposition them, or at the very least let it be known that a willingness to grant sexual favours would help a woman professionally. Thousands of young actors arrive in film hubs such as Mumbai each year hoping to emulate superstars such as Deepika Padukone or Aamir Khan. Mentally, in terms of awareness of the laws, they’ve just come from small towns with big dreams – they face maximum exploitation. As in other countries, sexual harassment is likely to be rampant across the Indian workforce but is especially acute in industries such as cinema, where a huge pool of workers, poor regulations and artistic discretion vest enormous power in employers. It’s an uncertain industry in which people take advantage of each other because of this insecurity. Awareness and reporting of crimes against women have grown across the Indian society in the past five years, and the film industry has not been immune. People are becoming more open about it – complaining, expressing their ire on social media, and going to the cops. Actors, who call out their harassers, must also contend with a culture that still shames victims, and which eyes female stars with awe and reverence, but suspicion too.
Radhika Apte and well-known Marathi actress Usha Jadhav had come forward to share their harassment stories in a TV documentary. Radhika said, “Some people are regarded as Gods. They are so powerful that people just don’t think that my voice is going to matter, or people think that if I speak, probably my career is going to get ruined.” Award-winning actress Usha Jadhav from the Marathi film industry said that it is common for the powerful men in the industry to demand sexual favours. Sharing one such incident, she recollects being told that she would have to give something in return. There are hundred such examples, I am happy that these women are ripping these molesters apart and coming out to expose them. Hope the film industry learns something hereafter and Tanushree-like actresses gets social justice.
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