Shyam Benegal on casting couch: If talentless people want to make it big, certain people will take advantage
The #MeToo movement has sent ripples through the Indian film industry too. More recently, many actors have been addressing (or being asked to address) the issue of systemic sexual harassment that exists within the industry. However, recent comments made by senior members against the victims of sexual harassment and 'casting couch' have shaken the industry.
After Saroj Khan, who recently issued an apology for saying "casting couch provides livelihood", renowned filmmaker Shyam Benegal has also made some remarks in poor taste. Speaking at a panel discussion hosted by Rajya Sabha TV, Benegal went on record to say, "Things don't happen in a one-sided way. I've heard of casting couch and don't know know how much of it is true and is not. I'm sure there is a certain amount of truth to it, but the fact is that when talented professionals work, there is no need for a casting couch. If there is no talent and people still want to make it into the business, there may be others who will try to take advantage of them."
He also pointed out that this kind of harassment is not limited to the glamour world but happens in every professional sphere. He said it depends on how a person decides to use their power and masculinity. He also said that he has never experienced it in his career and if he had, he would not have tolerated it.
Senior journalist and film critic Anna Vetticad chimed in by saying that an environment needs to be created in every field which guarantees protection and fully prohibits sexual harassment. Visibly disconcerted by Benegal's comments, Vetticad said, "If I heard him right, I must point out that it is not just talentless women who are targeted by predatory men. Women get targeted when at every stage — young, old, new and established."
She also pointed out that the North-India media had failed to fully cover the #MeToo movement in the Kerala film industry, where top women of the Malayalam industry formed a Women in Cinema Collective.
Watch the discussion here:
Updated Date: Apr 26, 2018 13:58 PM