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Jungle Mein Reshma Ki Jawani

casting couchSorry for the cheesy title but this is how I am feeling while writing this post.

Ever since I started blogging, I have been getting these messages (I stopped counting at 50) on Facebook, asking me if the casting couch in the Mumbai film industry is a reality.

Most of these messages come from struggling actors, who are finding it tough to pay their rent in a city where real estate prices have reached gigantic heights. Tired of their existence they are seeking an easier way out.

While analysing the questions I came across an interesting ‘lowest’ common denominator. None of you are interested in knowing how the casting couch operates. Most have already accepted the sleazy phenomenon as a dark reality in Bollywood. Now, all you simply want to know the names of producers and directors who grant roles in exchange of sex.

I also noticed that a large number of these mails are from males who wanted me to reveal the names of male filmmakers who would seek favours from male actors.

Now to answer your questions…

Does the casting couch exist in Bollywood?

Sorry to disappoint all of you, but the casting couch does not exist in Bollywood anymore. I will try to explain this point to you in this post.

If you are a struggler and desperately want to get a break in Bollywood, there’s no way a session of sex can get you up there in front of a movie camera. There are no producers or directors either who are offering roles on a platter in exchange of sex.

I will now try to analyse the current situation just give you a rough idea about why you cannot land up with Bollywood roles using sex as a tool. Perhaps it might prevent you from having sex with some people who cannot do anything for you. May be this article might help you. And that is exactly my intention.

So, here is why most Bollywood filmmakers won’t offer plum roles in exchange of sexual favours.

1. Bollywood films have a ‘tight’ budget: Bollywood commercial films are made on a budget which roughly varies between 10 crores to 50 crores. Though most films over-shoot their budget while filming and promotions, most producers try and stick to it. Some films like Chennai Express or Himmatwala are made on a budget that is above 50 crores but I am not considering them because they are not the general rule. Now, even 10 crores is a lot of money! People who are investing that amount of money won’t take a newcomer who can only give a good f**k, you see. If a newcomer lands in such a project, then there has to be a great reason for him/her to be there.

2. The director or the producer is just a part of the casting process: In Bollywood, the casting is not dependent on the director or the producer alone. So, even if the hero or the director suggests an actress’ name, the producer and a lot of other people associated with the film as a brand should approve of it. In certain cases, the studio which will be buying the film after it is complete will also brainstorm on the viability of the actors who are cast in the film. So, the actors go through a long list of ‘approvals’ that come from different ends. An A-list actor will quickly pass the test, but the moment a newbie’s name is suggested, intense scrutiny will happen. Again there has to be a great reason for him/her to be there in the film if the actor is a rank newcomer.

3. Every filmmaker is wary of casting couch allegations: The casting couch allegations have flown so thick and fast in Bollywood that every filmmaker is extremely wary of newbies who turn desperate to gain media attention the moment their ‘job application’ is turned down. Most filmmakers would never meet struggling actors at their offices or even in hotels. Even if they meet, just remember that a lot of them will meet you where they know that they have a security cordon of CCTV cameras and their loyal assistants. A lot of filmmakers now have CCTV cameras installed at their offices. To be honest, if you are a newcomer and you are looking to meet Karan Johar or Madhur Bhandarkar for a film role, it is just next to impossible. It doesn’t happen that way in Bollywood anymore.

4. There are scores out there like you: Remember that if you want to offer sex in exchange of a role, then there are thousands like you who are ready to take that route. There are only a handful of filmmakers and if they start entertaining every such offer, then they will be left with no time for their day jobs. I remember speaking to as many as three Bollywood filmmakers who joked that their lives have become so busy that they actually don’t have time for sex. Bad news for you, eh?

5. The new gen actors avoid this route: Among the current crop there are no heroes or heroines who have taken this casting couch route. If somebody tells you that X actor or Y actress have landed with a plum role because they had sex with the director or the producer, they are lying. These days in Bollywood, nobody gives a f***k about how good you are in bed before offering you a role. All of them are looking for return on their investment. Being somebody’s son or daughter or your dad being an industrialist or a money launderer could be good reasons too.

But if you are aspiring for the other kinds of films that probably scream Jungle Mein Reshma Ki Jawaani, then it is a different story.

In the next post, I will dig a little deeper and tell you how, why and where you will find sexual predators in Bollywood. And why you shouldn’t give a f***k.

Here is my final word for every newcomer before I end this post. Always remember that the casting couch will never take you beyond the couch.

Before I go, here are clips from a documentary that was made for the BBC on the subject. It tries to establish that casting couch is a reality in Mumbai but the plot went a little haywire during the investigation. More about it in my next post.

Update: There seems to be some confusion about the kinds of Bollywood films that I have referred to here. Bollywood is a very loose term to use in this context. So, here are the clarifications.

  1. I have only considered those films that everybody wants to work in, A grade Bollywood commercial films.
  2. The films that have a mounting cost of not less than 10 crores.
  3. The film should have at least one A-list star in the lead or an A-list director.
  4. Have only considered lead roles of a film and whether you can bag them by the casting couch route.
  5. Also, we must remember that all these films are usually backed by a studio, Indian or foreign.

Do I want to say that there’s no casting couch in Bollywood? Yes, there is! But it is a lot more sleazy than you can possibly imagine. Wait for my next post to hear about that.

Short-link of the post -> http://bit.ly/13za56t

4 replies »

  1. Nonsense. Laughed aloud whilst reading it. I have a few friends (female ones) who tried their best for modeling in South India; and also in Mumbai… heard real stories from them… what producers and directors asked of them… 2 of them tried for 6 months in Mumbai and then 1 went off to US for studies and another one moved to UK for acting classes. It looks like either you’re a paid writer for Bollywood PR or you’re just totally disconnected from the actual reality. Additionally, I personally have very good connections in the Bollywood world via investors who invest in movies; and these chaps regularly meet // entertain A+ grade actors in private parties/house parties; what goes on there… and discussions, I can’t even mention in a public forum. So totally disagree with you on this point. Yes, agree with you on the fact, casting couch cannot MAKE YOUR CAREER, but it definitely definitely definitely does exist. Forget about in movies, its 100.1% rampant even on TV – know a few TV celebs (1 is a good friend of mine who comes on a telly serial regularly) and what directors/TV channel producers ask for signing for roles, are worst even than Bollywood. And yes, one has to go through this loop – otherwise you wouldn’t be even considered for an extra role on a TV serial for 1 episode. How i see it is – casting couch is definitely present. Helps one to get a foothold in the industry. But whether your career takes off or NOT, that depends on your hard work, sincerity, and also “luck”.

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