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01 October 2023

Bollywood's dark side: Top stars talk 'casting couch'

By Sanskriti Media and Entertainment

The sting operation by actress Geetika Tyagi on director  Subhash Kapoor may be an outcome of a personal relationship taken to the wrong levels, but then the casting couch has been Bollywood’s worst kept secret.

“It is sad for a person who does it. It’s a sad situation,” says Harman Baweja. Newly-wed actress Sameera Reddy says, “The casting couch exists everywhere. Does it not exist in the media too? But you guys will not write about it,” she thunders.

This comes a few years after the much maligned Madhur Bhandarkar heaved a sigh of relief after being let off by the court on cases of multiple instances of rape and misconduct with actress Preeti Jain.

One of the most famous cases was the one where Shakti Kapoor and Aman Verma were in a sting operation conducted by a TV channel, where both actors allegedly tried to act fresh with a girl who was pretending to be a model in search of work.

Aman and Shakti allegedly propositioned to the girl. The case made national news, but was forgotten after the initial weeks of publicity.

Yesteryears actress Ameeta's daughter Sabeeha had made also made allegations against a top star.

TV actress Parul Chauhan of ‘Bidaai’ fame says, “I think it depends on the person. I was confident of my talent and struggled every day.

“I remember I did not have even Rs5 to spend on a sharing auto and would walk miles. But I was determined to get my way through hard work,” she opines.

Shiney Ahuja was also accused of the casting couch by actress Sayali Bhagat, who then vanished without a trace.
Shiney later was accused of rape by his maid. The case is pending in court.

Aditya Pancholi was accused by Pooja Bedi and Pooja who called off their relationship later, also made the allegations public.

Pancholi was in the news a few years ago allegedly for misbehaving with Kangna Ranaut with whom he was apparently having an affair. Pancholi, who was once arrested for threatening Anil Kapoor, has denied all allegations.

Actress Rekha Rana who acted in the recent film ‘Tara’ which was well acclaimed, says had her share of good and bad experiences which she does not want to discuss, but this quick witted actress knows her boundaries and simply evaded those casting couch moments cleverly.

However she shared: “I will not like to name him. He is a big name in the South but no sooner did he cast his bad hands on me, smelling his bad intentions I decided to never meet him again. However he kept messaging me saying, “Rekha you are a fine actor, I want to work with you.”

Mamta Kulkarni alleged that Raj Kumar Santoshi had tried to act fresh with her when they were shooting for the film ‘China Gate’. Santoshi denied the allegations and Mamta too retracted her statements. After that she vanished from the scene.

Tabu had once accompanied her sister Farah Naaz to an outdoor shoot where apparently Jackie Shroff tried to act fresh with her. Tabu and Jackie never worked together again.

Payal Rohatgi has accused Dibakar Banerji of asking her to take her clothes off while she had gone to audition for a role for his movie ‘Shanghai’.

Director Onir was accused of sexual molestation by actor Yuvraaj Parasher.

Not long ago, Rani Mukerji's brother Raja was arrested by Mumbai police for allegedly molesting a script writer in his car.

“The woman had gone to show Raja Mukerji a script. He tried to molest her in the car,” says police officer Narsingh Sherkhan.

But then actress Shilpa Shetty sums up the story from the actor’s perspective, “I really don’t know, but when so many people are saying so, it obviously does happen.

“But it all depends on you. How you want to face it and how are you going to get out of it!”

Ram Gopal Varma who has been linked to most of his heroines come up with a classic though,” Casting exists, so does the couch!”