“A cast­ing direc­tor said if I be­come his girl­friend, he will flood me with good roles”

TV ac­tress Leena Acharya nar­rates her #Metoo or­deal

Governance Now - - GENDER JUSTICE - As told to Gee­tan­jali Min­has

Ihave been in the tele­vi­sion in­dus­try for four years now. a direc­tor once said to me, “You have the looks but you have not done work that gives you recog­ni­tion.” He said that if I join hands with him life will be easy and I will not have to go for au­di­tion any­where. I told him to back off and never spoke to him again.

Many young girls who come into the in­dus­try are not pre­pared for the strug­gle and want things easy. Once I was called for a movie au­di­tion at Costa Cof­fee. I felt weird about the lo­ca­tion. The pro­duc­tion girl there asked me if I liked my work and if was will­ing to ‘com­pro­mise’ with the co­or­di­na­tor, direc­tor and pro­ducer. I left the place. At an­other time a cast­ing direc­tor sug­gested if I be­come his girl­friend, he will flood me with good roles and branded clothes.

Cast­ing di­rec­tors make tall prom­ises to girls who of­ten think they wield in­flu­ence in cast­ing for the lead roles. Girls en­ter­ing the in­dus­try have an im­pres­sion that close prox­im­ity with cast­ing di­rec­tors will get them roles. But their job is to only pro­vide op­tions for roles. It is the col­lec­tive de­ci­sion of the pro­duc­tion house and chan­nel heads to cast for im­por­tant roles. nowa­days mul­ti­ple cast­ing di­rec­tors are en­gaged to pro­vide cast­ing op­tions for roles.

I am sat­is­fied with work on hand.

At present, I have a good role in the se­rial, ‘Per­fect Pati’. Many of my friends are sit­ting with­out work de­spite their strug­gle for years. Oth­ers have strug­gled for a long time be­fore they landed in good roles. It takes a few years in the in­dus­try to re­alise who or what holds wa­ter.

South In­dian and Bho­jpuri film in­dus­tries are no­to­ri­ous for cast­ing couch. Once I was called to au­di­tion a ‘hot’ scene for a mother’s role in a Bho­jpuri film! At an­other time when my room­mate was called to au­di­tion for a Bho­jpuri film she was asked to com­pro­mise to get the role.

Com­par­a­tively, the tele­vi­sion and fash­ion in­dus­tries are safe for women and very un­safe for men and gays. They are badly harassed. My male friends of­ten share their cast­ing couch ex­pe­ri­ences. My friend Nikhil who had come here from Dubai to try his luck in act­ing was propo­si­tioned by a cast­ing direc­tor with the prom­ise that he will get only lead roles. But by the end of it he was so frus­trated that he went back to dubai.

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