The National Congress gave away the title of state president of art and culture to film actress Tejinder Kaur Sandhu at a conference recently; where she assured that one, she would ask for subsidy to shoot for Punjabi films, and two, she would also take initiatives against the issue of casting couch!
The words that float around in Bollywood, have now found a new destination —the Punjabi film and music industry. Is this a reality in Pollywood now? Even though artistes from the industry admit to the existence of casting couch, very few bold voices are ready to talk about it.
Let’s be the whistle blowers
In the beginning of the year, Punjabi singer Jelly and others were accused of raping a model and actress. This was one odd case that was reported, many go unreported. Punjabi actress Priya Lakhanpal, who will be seen in the up and coming film Asees and is currently representing Punjab for to-be-held Mrs India, had filed an FIR in 2017 against a Punjabi film producer who used lewd words in one of the meetings.
“We are only seeing the good image of the Punjabi film industry, but the fact is that barring 20 per cent of the people from the industry, 80 per cent will take advantage of girls who want to work here.”
Priya, who is currently preparing for the pageant, wants the female artistes from the industry to come out of the purdah and talk about the existence of casting couch.”
An unfortunate reality, but with idle few
A few months back noted choreographer Saroj Khan’s comment that casting couch was not a new phenomenon ignited a huge debate with Bollywood taking sides on the matter. But as far as the Punjabi film industry is concerned, the voices are still like a faint whisper. However, Punjabi music producer and popular lyricist Bunty Bains has no qualms in admitting that casting couch is not an unheard of phenomenon, or even blasphemous for the industry, though he tells us that only veyhla (people who have no work) artistes do this. “There are many music producers and even singers who enter this field because the idea of working with glamorous girls sounds alluring to them. These are the artistes who have brought casting couch to the industry.”
Bunty Bains also doesn’t deny that wannabe models and actresses too ‘willingly’ approach directors and producers. “If a girl faces such a situation, she should immediately report the matter and not be quiet about it.”
Punjabi film actress Anshu Sawhney, who has worked in 17 Punjabi movies and two Hindi films, did have to face a lot of problem work wise after she spoke about the unpleasant things in the industry. “Girls do not talk about casting couch because they are afraid to do so, they feel it is a big price to pay for the name and fame ahead of them. Here in this industry, nobody uses the word ‘compromise’, but they’d trap the girl by showing her dreams of working in a film, and the poor girl doesn’t realise when she is trapped.” Anshu demands the need to create an organisation that will look into such matters and she also warns girls to talk about casting couch if they face one.
Though only some artistes from Punjabi film industry accept the presence of casting couch, most of them are in denial mode.
What can the girls do?
Noted Punjabi actress Mandy Takhar has some advice to offer in this scenario. The actress does feel that the industry is partial when it comes to monetary payments to actresses though she hasn’t faced any such situation. Mandy believes that wannabe female actors need to conduct themselves professionally. “I always switch off my phone after the shoot, no partying, no hanging around with the cast and crew. I like to keep to myself on the sets and always conduct myself in a strictly professional manner,” she adds.
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