Choli Ke Peeche choreographer Saroj Khan shockingly defends casting couch
At a time when Bollywood is trying to come in terms with the prevalence of casting couch in the industry, one of its veterans is defending the practice. Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan who has directed innumerable leading ladies and timeless hits, made a scathing reference to rape while normalizing the casting couch practice in the industry.
"Yeh chala aa raha hai Baba azam ke zamaane se. Har ladki ke upar koi na koi haath saaf karne ki koshish karta hai. Govt ke log bhi karte hain. Tum film industry ke peeche kyun pade ho? Woh kam se kam roti toh deti hai. Rape karke chhod toh nahi deti,” (This has been happening for a long time. Some one or the other always tries to take advantage of a girl. Why are you after the film industry solely? We stick to our work and we offer returns at the end. It is not like we rape the girl and leave her) said the industry veteran. While normalizing the casting couch, Khan forgets that it is neither right nor normal for a woman to be offering her body to get a job. Her reference to rape remains even more shocking like the industry is doing aspiring actors a favour by offering the casting couch option over rape. One can only wonder what Saroj Khan was smoking before making the statement.
The national award winning choreographer who has been credited with the trend of item numbers in Bollywood also added, “Yeh ladki ke upar hai ki tum kya karna chahti ho. Tum uske haath mein nahi aana chahti ho toh nahi aaogi. Tumhare paas art hai toh tum kyun bechoge apne aap ko? Film industry ko kuch mat kehna, woh humaara mai-baap hai” (It is up to the girl, it depends on what she wants to do. If you don’t want to do it, you don’t do it. If you have art, why will you sell yourself? Don’t say anything to the film industry, it is everything for us) her answer was in reply to the recent event of Telugu actor Sri Reddy stripping to protest against casting couch.
Hollywood saw a watershed moment with Me Too and Time’s Up but now it seems like Bollywood is far from it with veteran women from the industry themselves passing the ugly practice of casting couch as industry protocol. When it is choreographers from yester years who rose to fame with songs like ‘Choli Ke Peeche’ the task seems even more daunting.
Some of the reactions to her comment as as follows: