For decades, there have been whispers of casting couch incidents in Bollywood with many actors – male and female – sharing their traumatic incidents with directors, producers, casting agents and other actors. A casting couch is a term used for when a person in power offers an individual a role in a movie or a show in return for sexual favours. Now, in her autobiography, actor Neena Gupta has revealed that she had to go through the same thing. According to her book, Sach Kahun Toh, Gupta received a call from a producer who worked in the South Film Industry. He wanted to meet her in his room at the hotel. “My basic instinct told me to not go upstairs. That I should ask him to come down to the lobby instead,” she wrote. However, the actor was afraid to lose out on an opportunity and hence, she went up. The producer spoke about all the actors he’d launched and told her that he was considering her for a role.
“‘So, what’s my role, sir?’ I asked him finally when he paused to catch his breath. ‘The heroine’s friend,’ he said. When he explained it to me, it seemed like a very small part. ‘Ok … I have to go now, sir’ I said, ‘My friends are waiting for me.’….’Go? Where? he asked. He seemed genuinely shocked. Aren’t you going to spend the night here?’ Suddenly, I felt like someone had just poured a bucket of ice water on my head. Khoon sookh gaya (My blood froze),” the actor wrote. The producer thrust her bag in her arms and told her that she wasn’t being forced to do anything. Gupta ran out of the room.
[Image Credit: Neena Gupta]