A sickness that is called the Casting Couch is rampant across film industries. No industry is spared of this disease that has plagued them for years now. The only thing that has changed is that, certain women have started speaking up about it. They have dared to recall the incident and talk about in public to let people know, the ordeal they have been through at some point in time. Another woman who spoke up recently was Solo actor, Sruthi Hariharan. She was part of a panel ‘Sexism in Cinema’ at the India Today Conclave. She recalls of a horrifying incident where a Tamil producer informed her that she would be exchanged between four other men – “One of the leading producers in Tamil Cinema bought the rights to my Kannada film and offered me the same role in the Tamil remake. He said, and I’m quoting him verbatim, ‘we are five producers and we will exchange you however we want. I retorted by saying that I carry a slipper with me in my hand.”
She reveals that ever since the incident, not many roles have come her way in Tamil, because soon after this incident the rumour spread that she was a ‘difficult person to work with’. Many even went up to her and asked her if she actually said what she said. But unfortunately, this is not the first time she has experienced the casting couch. At the age of 18, on the sets of her first Kannada film, she had a terrifying experience. When she confided in somebody, they told her that if she didn’t know how to handle it, she should leave.
Last year, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar came out in open about her experiences with the casting couch. She talked of a certain producer who wanted to meet her ‘outside of work’. Also last year in February, a leading Malayalam actress was physically assaulted by six other men. The intention was to scare her off and theatren her. But despite the ordeal she went through she filed a complaint.