Speaking at a press conference recently, veteran choreographer Saroj Khan not only accepted the existence of the ‘casting couch’ in the film industry, but also defended it. The three time National Award winner, who has choreographed over 2000 songs in Hindi films, began her argument by stating that the casting couch was not a recent practice but has been going on from the beginning of time. Saroj Khan was responding to a question relating to Telugu actor Sri Reddy’s act of stripping to protest against the culture of the casting couch.
Saroj Khan later issued an apology to CNN News18 for her statement.
Sri Reddy reacted to Saroj Khan’s comments justifying the casting couch by saying, “I lost respect for you Saroj ma'am. Being an elder you should give a good path to young actresses. It is giving a wrong indication that you have to be a slave to producers.”
Saroj Khan stated that almost everyone tries to take advantage of women, including government officials, so why are you after the film industry. Saroj further defended the practice of seeking sexual favours in the film industry by saying that at least the casting couch ensures that you get to earn your livelihood, it is not as if you are raped and abandoned.
Actor Richa Chadha, who is known for her outspokenness, on the other hand came to Saroj Khan’s defence saying that the choreographer was being “misrepresented”. In a byte to ANI, the actor said:
"“I think people are making mountain of molehill. There’s narrative that people in Bollywood are the worst & indulge in malpractices which isn’t the case. She meant to say it takes place in all industries, why is Bollywood being singled out?”" - Richa Chadda on Saroj Khan
Later, she further clarified her stance in a series of tweets:
Before I get misquoted/misrepresented again, this is what I feel about the SarojKhan comment.I object to the use of the word 'rape'.From a 50 sec clip of an interview with her, I don't feel she's defending 'casting couch' as no person in their mind would. She asks why (1)— TheRichaChadha (@RichaChadha) April 24, 2018
Single out the film industry,when women have to deal with this everywhere. She actually makes a scathing statement about the Govt exploiting women and says she doesn't judge women who choose this path. That seems to be what she says...(2) https://t.co/OssQ4FYSvo— TheRichaChadha (@RichaChadha) April 24, 2018
Watch what’s happening. Look at a narrative being spun about the film Indt being an amoral,vacuous,intoxicated place. The film indt if anything is a microcosm of society. I believe Saroj Ji is being misrepresented, no one,especially no woman in their right mind could defend (3) https://t.co/X7oq1TChXI— TheRichaChadha (@RichaChadha) April 24, 2018
The ‘casting couch’. It’s an abhorrent practice and doesn’t do the indt any good. The indt should be a meritocracy. But let’s not be quick to malign a veteran or judge others so quickly https://t.co/25AJp4EB5r— TheRichaChadha (@RichaChadha) April 24, 2018
The choreographer, who is responsible for giving legendary actors like Madhuri Dixit and the late Sridevi several of their biggest dance hits, further added that it is up to the girl to choose what she wants to do when faced with the casting couch. If the girl is talented, she does not need to sell herself, Saroj Khan remarked.
You can watch Saroj Khan’s statement below:
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