At the India Today Conclave in Hyderabad, actress Sruthi Hariharan spoke about the issue of casting couch in the film industry and her experience without taking any names.
“I was 18 years old when I first faced a casting couch incident. It left me so scared and petrified that I remember crying. When I told my choreographer about what happened, he told me that if I didn’t know how to handle this, I should leave,” she said, speaking at the ‘Sexism in Cinema’ session.
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She also spoke about how she hasn’t been getting good projects in Tamil cinema thanks to a leading producer who propositioned something untoward once.
“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.”
Later, she issued a statement saying that she stands by what she said. She further added that it is not to discourage or scare anyone.
“Coming to the point, I know many women like me who have been victims of the casting couch. I also know women who have stood up against it and said NO. I believe that’s what is important. To take a stand and say NO… Even if it means you are going to lose that opportunity – it is okay as long as you don’t lose your integrity,” she said. Sruthi further said that sexual favours may bring opportunities but it’s not enough to survive the industry.
“Times are changing . There are amazing men in the film industry who I have a lot of respect and regard for – many of whom I can’t wait to work with. So let’s not blame just those few men who ask for sexual favours. They ask because there have been women who have complied. You sure do need two hands to clap,” she said.
Here’s her full statement: