In a startling development, the issue of the casting couch in Bollywood is yet again under the scanner. Bollywood actress Payal Rohatgi has accused film-maker Dibakar Banerjee, of Love Sex aur Dhokha fame, of trying to take advantage of her in lieu of a role in his upcoming movie.
According to Payal, four months ago, she messaged the film-maker to introduce herself as an actress. Since then, they became good friends and also ended up speaking about their personal relationship problems. Payal points out, “I used to consult him over my career. You can call him my mentor. We became good friends. We spoke about our lives and relationships. We also spoke about my relationship with Rahul Mahajan. He also mentioned that his marriage was not going great."
Payal rues, “The problem arose when I spoke to Dibakar about giving me a role in his upcoming movie, Shanghai. He asked me to meet his casting director. I went for an audition. I had to act like a woman who had just received news of her husband’s demise. However, after doing it, i felt heavy at heart. I called Dibakar and narrated it to him. I also told him to my house in the meanwhile."
According to Payal, since Dibakar had been to her house earlier, she did not hesitate to call him home this time as well. Payal says, “Dibakar came to my house and commented that I had gained weight. He asked me to lift my shirt and show him my stomach. I didn’t like it. I told him I was in no mood for jokes. But he did not agree. I told him to leave."
Payal alleges that since then whenever she called up Dibakar, he would not reply. After some days, Payal says she got to know that the role for which she had auditioned went to someone else. Payal feels that since she did not give in to Dibakar’s demands, she was ousted from the casting process.
Dibakar Banerjee clarifies, “Payal called me around March this year. She told me she wanted to do meaningful films. I met her at the business centre of a 5 star hotel and told her she would have to give a screen test. Her messages conveyed her intentions. I told her if I wanted to cheat on my wife, I would have had an extra marital affair with a non-star. Just for casting someone in my film, I don’t need to have a physical relationship with the person and go against my principles."
According to Dibakar, the two also spoke several times after this incident. He constantly advised her on her choice of films. He also asked her to keep on doing acting workshops and theatre. The film-maker says, “I also came to know that payal sent such messages to other directors as well. I still had offered her an audition for my film. She wanted to meet me before the auditions but I refused. Post her audition, she told me how she was overwhelmed at having played a recently widowed woman. I thought of taking her to my friend’s studio. So, I went to her house. I stayed there for a little while. There was no tension between us. We discussed her weight. But there was no talk of lifting her skirt."
Dibakar also added that post that incident, Payal tried to contact him several times to know about the result of the audition. He says, “Her messages were very angry. She called my casting director in the middle of the night in fury. After that, we put an end to all of this. It was my mistake that I took it seriously when she said she wants to do meaningful films."
Dibakar Banerjee has made films like ‘Khosla ka Ghosla’, ‘Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!’ and ‘Love Sex aur Dhokha’.