Actress Vidya Balan says she protected herself against “sleazy predators” and “casting couch” in the industry.
During an interview on the CNN-News 18 show “Straight Talk with Vidya Balan”, Vidya opened up about the clamour around sexual harassment in showbiz after Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was named by multiple actresses and models for rape and assault.
The question about why the women remained silent has been put up multiple times.
According to Vidya, “You can’t judge when women should speak about it or why they didn’t speak about it earlier”, read a statement on excerpts from her conversation.
Asked if the “culture of silence” has existed in the Indian film fraternity as in the west where the casting couch and sleazy predators are an open secret, she said: “I’m a living example of the fact that not everyone is a predator. I come from a privileged background, so I always gave the vibe that I don’t need this, I’m only doing this as a passion, I’m very serious about this… But I won’t react with people in a way that was personal. Almost err on the side of caution. Maybe it’s also a middle-class thing. If you smelt a rat, you’d rather keep away. That was my way of protecting myself.”
“But I have heard of people who had been absolutely fine with me, going and threatening, propositioning other women and I would tell some of them you shouldn’t keep quiet about it and they would say, ‘I don’t want to be known for this controversy’. And there’s also fear that other producers won’t give you work. It seems like if you speak about it, people won’t want to work with you. I always thought that at that level with that kind of success, female actors in Hollywood would not keep quiet and tolerate sexual harassment. But maybe at that level you have more to lose or as much to lose,” Vidya added.
The Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh actress, who has portrayed strong women-oriented roles on screen, says she has not faced the casting couch herself, but said it is so because she deliberately walked away before anyone could say anything.
“You get a vibe and I would walk away because I wanted to be safe. Having said that, whatever you want to do for the sake of your career or your life, no one should be judging you either way. You would be blamed previously, so people wouldn’t talk about it because fingers would be pointed at you,” said the 38-year-old actress.
The episode will be aired on Thursday.