Ok so I've openly talked about my love/hate relationship with Bollywood. While "hate" may be a strong word, it's isn't strong enough when talking about this topic. For those who have been taught that there is no sex in Bollywood, you've been misinformed. There is LOTS of sex happening; just not in front of the camera!
As someone who has been in the entertainment industry for a while, I've heard it all. But these aren't just rumors or gossip (like a young 16-yr-old Madhuri Dixit sleeping with older Subhash Ghai, which probably has some truth considering we all know Ghai has been accused many times). Bollywood's casting couch is very real. But then again, so are Hollywood's sex antics. So here lies my issue. For a country, and industry, that refuses to show or discuss the topic of sex, it sure does have a lot of cobwebs in its closet. I find it extremely aggravating and disturbing that we don't address physical intimacy in our movies because of 'morals'. So, ummm where are those 'morals' off-camera?
While I understand that sex is a complicated (to say the least) issue for India, I do believe the film industry needs to come into the 21st industry and get real. The casting couch has been around since the early years and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the number of affairs happening in this fraternity. But the democratization of Bollywood must happen - it can no longer be an empire ruled by the talentless and family relations. It has to compete on the global scale of movie making.
I also have to bring up the topic of female empowerment. You probably want to know what one has to do with the other? Well, the truth is Bollywood is reflective of Indian society. It's a protected fraternity that is 'accepted' by all walks of life, and showcasing a fantasy world to girls all over India. When they come to Bombay to become a star and told they have to sleep with a director or producer, it becomes OK because it's Bollywood. Who is going to tell them differently? Certainly not the corrupt pro-Bollywood government. If we want female empowerment, we should start with Bollywood actresses. How many have slept with directors to get a role and why do we, a society that feels casual sex or sex for favors is so wrong, allows it to happen?
Oh, and let's not forget the men! The gay casting couch has long been prevalent in India. The topic of homosexuality is even more taboo than straight sex! I can't tell you how many upcoming actors from the UK I have spoken to that have been approached by Indian directors for sexual favors. It's amazing that this still isn't discussed.
Want to read more? There's even a book on the topic "Dear Mister Bollywood"
What happens now? Well, I do believe there are people in Bollywood who are tired of the scandals. And no doubt, it will continue to shake the foundation until it shifts into something more positive. I just hope for the sake of ‘new’ India, it happens sooner rather than later. You can see a full gallery of those scandals here.