Mumbai: Celebrated choreographer Saroj Khan has apologised after defending casting couch in the film industry at a recent event, where she was asked to comment on south Indian actress Sri Reddy’s protest against the practice in Telangana.
While speaking to a national news channel, Khan issued an apology, saying that she is “sorry” for having made the comment. The 69-year-old choreographer, at the event, said that casting couch isn’t prevalent in the film industry alone but exists otherwise as well. Not just that, Khan also compared casting couch to rape, saying that the practice provides “livelihood at least.” Her comment was met with severe outrage following which she apologised.
“Can I tell you one thing? This has been going on since the beginning of time. It hasn’t started now. Someone or the other tries to take advantage of every other girl. The government’s people do it too. Then why are you after the film industry? It provides livelihood at least.
Does not rape and leave you. It depends on the girl, what she wants to do. If you don’t want to fall into wrong hands, you won’t. If you have art, why would you sell yourself? Don’t take the film industry’s name, it is everything for us,” Saroj Khan said.
Earlier in April, Sri Reddy was taken into police custody after she stripped in public and staged a protest in front of the Movie Artistes Association or MAA in Hyderabad, alleging that local artistes were not being provided with opportunities in the industry. She was, in fact, denied membership by an apex body of the Telugu film industry while she also voiced concern on casting couch, and physical, mental and sexual harassment of women in the Telugu film industry.
Casting couch has been vehemently discussed in the film industry after several actresses confessed last year about being sexually harassed by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. A movement, by the name of Me Too, went viral on social media as women all across the world spoke of their experience of harassment.
Reese Witherspoon and Shonda Rhimes along with several other Hollywood actresses launched a movement, Time’s Up in January as they vowed to allocate $13 million in legal aid to women who encounter harassement at work. In the Hindi film industry, soon after, celebrities including Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Ileana D’Cruz condemned casting couch.
Saroj Khan has choreographed for several films including Lagaan, Once Upon a Time in India, Devdas, Swades, Veer-Zaara, Fanaa and Jab We Met.