Veteran choreographer Saroj Khan recently spoke at a press conference and defended the practice of casting couch in Bollywood. She not only accepted the existence of casting couch but she also said that this is something which has been happening since the beginning of time. The choreographer was asked to comment on Sri Reddy's recent protest against casting couch in the Telegu Film Industry.
According to her, everyone and everywhere, people take advantage of women, so it's unfair to single out the film industry. She went on to add that the practice of seeking sexual favors is not wrong as it ensures that you get your livelihood and it's not as if you are rape or abandoned. Such a statement from an industry veteran who has won 3 National Awards and has choreographer over 2000 songs is quite alarming.
Existence: The extent and the ease with which Saroj Khan spoke about the casting couch and the reasons she gave to defend it will not only promote more such activities by the sleazeballs in the industry, it will also force a lot of youngsters and newcomers to give up on their dreams. Or even worse, it is going to make the newcomers consider the possibility of indulging in casting couch as they now an industry insider has confirmed that it gets you roles.
Safety Not Guaranteed: Accepting that something wrong is going on for a long time and also accepting its existence in other professions as well means that a person is aware of the wrongdoings. But, not doing anything about it simply means that you are giving in to your oppressors and also giving them the confidence to do this to more people. A lot of people look the other way and choose not to take an action which means they have already given up.
Deterrent: Saroj Khan's statement couldn't have come at a worse time. Finally, when women and men in the industry are speaking up against the sexual harassment they faced in the industry (both in India & abroad), a well-respected veteran justifying a shameful act deters other people from coming forward and sharing their stories. It also is a slap in the faces of movements like #MeToo and Time's Up.
Give and Take: Saroj Khan also stated matter of factly that at least you are not raped or abandoned and you do get a role once you have given in to the sexual advances of a creep. It again undoes a lot of progress the industry has achieved over protecting women and their dignity.