Swara Bhasker & Radhika Apte On Handling the Casting Couch

Swara Bhasker and Radhika Apte share their experiences of handling Bollywood’s Harvey Weinsteins.

3 min read
Swara Bhasker & Radhika Apte On Handling the Casting Couch

In light of the events which brought out the truth about the once-celebrated producer Harvey Weinstein, Hollywood has been personified as a kind of unit-driven sexual predator. However, it's time to take an inwards look at our very own linchpin of entertainment- the idolised Bollywood industry.

In a recent tweet, actress and filmmaker Pooja Bhatt stated that there are plenty of Weinsteins in Bollywood. She also added that unlike how the Academy expelled Weinstein following the allegations, the Indian producers association wouldn’t do anything to protect persons having faced the same kind of harassment.


Time and time again, actors, actresses and in some cases even directors, have spoken out about the existence of the casting couch in Bollywood and the ugly truth behind it.

Speaking to The Quint, actor Swara Bhasker spoke about how women who have been subjected to sexual harassment often do not reach out to people and get the help, support and belief they need- be it within the industry or otherwise. According to Bhaskar, the reasons are four-pronged: culture of shaming, fear of not being believed, tedious bureaucratic processes and fear of retribution.

In selfie video, Swara explains to us how she dealt with the casting couch in Bollywood. The actor says that at first she did not understand when people were soliciting her for the casting couch.

Watch Swara describe the horrors of her brush with the casting couch here:

However, a positive impact is taking place of late. Social media is breaking out with women sharing their own horrifying stories of sexual harassment, in an attempt to showcase the unity of strength and comfort towards others having undergone the same kind of trauma. From celebrities to politicians, women have been supporting and encouraging the #Metoo campaign, which aims to spread awareness about the evil of sexual harassment and why it needs to stop.

Actors like Tisca Chopra, Radhika Apte, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar and Ranveer Singh have spoken out against sexual harassment, by narrating the different ways by which they escaped the evils of the casting couch and why it needs to go.

While Chopra shared her experience of strategically side-stepping a leading Bollywood director, when she was propositioned, Apte spoke to The Quint about the need for in-your-face refusals.

“Right in the beginning, when I came to Mumbai, I remember a couple of times some people asked me to meet them really late in the night. So I just refused. These are like the middlemen, trying to get you an audition and all, you know. But I never met them.
But later on I think, I just got this one call where someone told me that ‘listen, if you want to go meet this producer he might ask you to sleep with him’. I laughed and I said ‘no, I am not going to meet him then’. But other than that, I have worked with lots of people and I have never faced this.In the south, they just make it very obvious that they want to sleep with you. But I just don’t cater to that and I don’t even know if I have lost work because of that, because it never really reached me that much.”
Radhika Apte
Radhika Apte spoke to The Quint about the life of an actor in Bollywood. 

The truth of the matter is, no matter who they are, how they are and what they believe in - nobody has the right to make you feel uncomfortable and make you feel unsafe. Your body and your mind is just that - yours. And it’s time people like Harvey Weinstein and his Bollywood counterparts suffer the repercussions of the same.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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