“A casting director said if I become his girlfriend, he will flood me with good roles”

TV actress Leena Acharya narrates her #MeToo ordeal

geetanjali

Geetanjali Minhas | October 15, 2018 | Mumbai


#time up   #women safety   #Tanushree Dutta   #MJ Akbar   #molestation   #office harassment   #sexual harassment   #MeToo   #Leena Acharya  
Leena Acharya
Leena Acharya

I have been in the television industry for four years now. A director once said to me, “You have the looks but you have not done work that gives you recognition.” He said that if I join hands with him life will be easy and I will not have to go for audition anywhere. I told him to back off and never spoke to him again. 

Many young girls who come into the industry are not prepared for the struggle and want things easy. Once I was called for a movie audition at Costa Coffee. I felt weird about the location. The production girl there asked me if I liked my work and if was willing to ‘compromise’ with the coordinator, director and producer. I left the place. At another time a casting director suggested if I become his girlfriend, he will flood me with good roles and branded clothes.

 
 
 
 
Casting directors make tall promises to girls who often think they wield influence in casting for the lead roles. Girls entering the industry have an impression that close proximity with casting directors will get them roles. But their job is to only provide options for roles. It is the collective decision of the production house and channel heads to cast for important roles. Nowadays multiple casting directors are engaged to provide casting options for roles.
 
I am satisfied with work on hand. At present, I have a good role in the serial, ‘Perfect Pati’. Many of my friends are sitting without work despite their struggle for years. Others have struggled for a long time before they landed in good roles. It takes a few years in the industry to realise who or what holds water.
 
South Indian and Bhojpuri film industries are notorious for casting couch. Once I was called to audition a ‘hot’ scene for a mother’s role in a Bhojpuri film! At another time when my roommate was called to audition for a Bhojpuri film she was asked to compromise to get the role.
 
Comparatively, the television and fashion industries are safe for women and very unsafe for men and gays. They are badly harassed. My male friends often share their casting couch experiences. My friend Nikhil who had come here from Dubai to try his luck in acting was propositioned by a casting director with the promise that he will get only lead roles. But by the end of it he was so frustrated that he went back to Dubai.       
 
As told to Geetanjali Minhas

(The article appears in October 31, 2018 edition)

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