Despite increased awareness and empowerment, casting couch is a reality actors still have to face in the film industry. Actor Rajeev Khandelwal recently revealed that he was once propositioned by a filmmaker in exchange for a two-film deal, ahead of his Bollywood debut.
Many film fraternity members were called out when the #MeToo movement caught fire in India in 2018. But Rajeev thinks that the perpetrators should not be named and shamed, as they are not the ones solely responsible.
"It's not just about that person, but the one who gives into casting couch is equally responsible. How can you say a woman is being exploited, because she doesn't mind getting exploited. Then she talks about casting couch because she thinks the other man was more powerful. No, somewhere you lacked confidence, you lacked self belief. Otherwise you wouldn't have allowed.
"Casting couch is not rape where you are forced upon. What I understand from casting couch is that you are subjected to a situation where you get some benefit out of it. One who is exploited is probably a weaker person, one who didn't have enough confidence that they can do without it," Rajeev told Hindustan Times.
Rajeev said he chose to make his Bollywood debut with a smaller budget film Aamir rather than accepting the two-film deal. "In my case, I experienced someone trying to exploit me but I didn't give in. I said my self-confidence is huge and I won't remain workless if you don't give me work. I will probably get work on my own terms and conditions and I did," he said.
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