Harvey Weinstein: Swara Bhasker Speaks Out Against the Casting Couch in Bollywood
Swara Bhasker spoke about her earlier experiences with the casting couch in Bollywood and how she refused to give in to its insidious culture.
A file photo of Swara Bhaskar.
The allegations against Harvey Weinstein and other Hollywood heavyweights, and the subsequent coming out of sexual harassment victims from other fields, didn't quite have the snowball effect in India that it did in other parts of the world. Maybe it's because of climate change. Or maybe it's because, as Parvathy noted, due to a culture of victim shaming prevalent in the country. Whatever the case, India's film fraternity has been characteristically silent on the issue and the presence of sexual predators in the country's various film industries.
Joining the admittedly narrow rank of Indian actresses ready to address the issue, Swara Bhasker, in a recent interview with Mumbai Mirror, disclosed her own experiences as a Bollywood starlet. After she refused favors to various industry players, Swara was refused film roles, even avoided, by the same people who wanted to take advantage of her youth, inexperience and lack of fame. The Veere di Wedding star also spoke about instances wherein she was groped by onlookers at film sets and most notably, the unwanted advances a frequently inebriated director made on her.
She recalled the incessant calling and texting, direct and indirect sexual advances, and even stalking that she was subjected to due to the unnamed director. "He stalked me during the day and called me through the night. I was asked to go to his hotel room on the pretext of discussing the scene and would find him drinking. During the first week itself, he started talking about love and sex and one night, arrived in my room, drunk, and asked to be hugged. It was scary," said the actress, recalling how she would switch off the lights after pack-up and remove here makeup in the dark so that he would think she was asleep. Later, after speaking to the film's executive producer, she was was escorted everywhere for the remaining duration of the project.
The harrowing ordeal took place during an outdoor film shoot early in her career, but Swara stayed firm in her resolve to not give in to pressure and harassment. As the actress said, "Lose the part but don't get on the couch."
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