Saroj Khan Defends Casting Couch Culture
She said, "Casting couch provides livelihood. Taking advantage of a girl is done with her consent. Women are not sexually abused and dumped. They are given livelihood."
Veteran choreographer Saroj Khan has come under scrutiny after her recent comments defending the casting couch culture. She said, "Casting couch provides livelihood. Taking advantage of a girl is done with her consent. Women are not sexually abused and dumped. They are given livelihood." She justified the casting couch - the exchange of sexual favours for work in the film industry - at a press conference held in Mumbai on Tuesday, describing it as "age-old" and asking "why the entertainment industry alone should be targeted," reports news agency ANI.
The choreographer, responsible for creating some of the most memorable Bollywood song-and-dance sequences over her long and storied career, made the remarks in response to a question about Telugu actress Sri Reddy stripping on a road to protest against Tollywood's alleged casting couch culture. She said that the practice wasn't exploitative and instead helped performers with their career and it was all done with consent. This caused quite the backlash, as one would expect.
Saroj Khan also said that the casting couch is founded on the principle of consent, that artistes have a choice and that they can choose not to work with someone who has asked for favours. "Tumhare paas art hai toh tum kyun bechoge apne aap ko? (Why would you sell yourself is you have the talent?)" Ms Khan warned reporters against criticising the film industry because "woh humaara mai-baap hai."
As soon the word spread and she received a lot of flak for her statement. However, soon after, the veteran choreographer issued an apology.