Casting Couch Syndrome
“The casting couch syndrome is a term which refers to the trading of sexual favours by an aspirant, apprentice employee or subordinate to a superior in return for entry into an occupation, or for other career advancement within an organization. The term “casting couch” originated in the motion picture industry, with specific reference to couches in offices that could be used for sexual activity between casting directors or film producers and aspiring actresses or actors.”
There was a time, not far ago, Indians in Australia, though complete strangers, greeted each other, with a friendly smile and had a chit chat, if they happen to meet in public places. This conveyed a message of unique unity among the community and that was how the networks of friendships were built on those days. Since then the Indian population has exploded to around three times. The focus changed from being friendly with the folks to being prominent in the community. Friendships gave way to rivalry and snobbishness. This is a natural process and cannot be controlled or contained; but as time passes the community will attain the maturity required to accept these divisive yet colourful characters.
India with its one billion population is a hard place for any Individual to make a mark. It is a highly competitive world, with the established elite, making it difficult for newcomers to share the lime light. But for an Indian migrant, Australia was altogether a new world. They could even touch the visiting Indian celebrities with their own hand, whom they watched with all their adoration from far, among thousands of other admirers. Many celebrated this new found status elevation by posting their photos with celebrities in their Facebook accounts on a daily basis. Thus far the story is good and stimulating. Now let us move on to the issue.
But the issue is of ‘casting couch syndrome’ in our community. When such issues come up, we all love to rise up to the situation and act like a ‘Moral Police’. Recently in Sydney a few of the Indian community members were accused of encouraging this culture, as our own ‘B grade’ Bollywood celebrities queued up to visit Australia to make some quick bucks. Many fuming ‘so called’ community leaders reacted sharply against the perpetrators. Below is a quote from one such outburst.
“Many people know that attempts were made recently to subject some girls/ladies for “casting couch syndrome” in Sydney. Pressure was put on some of the girls for nude pictures, offering help to get them Bollywood movie roles. Someone was asked for the key of his apartment so that “photo shoot” can be done! These girls then sought help from some from the community. These “some” people included members of the media and community leaders. Some of these community leaders are women themselves, who keep peddling themselves as the conscientious people awarding this or that person and “saluting this or that person, just to hide their “shallowness” and crash “self-glorification”. One of the people whose help was sought is a prominent media personality, who, when told about it, advised these women to “zip up” and do nothing.
Instead of doing anything concrete to stop the alleged misdeeds by the perpetrators, these women, shamelessly, supported the perpetrators by participating in the events in question. This has, obviously, made these perpetrators emboldened. They are so emboldened that they have developed a habit of issuing threats that they can destroy people in the community.
The peculiarities of our culture and society will prevent/discourage the victims to go to the police because of the risk of stigma and bad name. It is hard to explain to victims that they can go to Police and ask them to keep their names anonymous. Why should the members of media, businesses and community not make a moral stand and express their serious displeasure against people who are continuously involved in such misbehaviour and third rate activities in our community? Why should businesses continue supporting (by sponsorships) these third rate people who are bringing bad name to our community?
Why are we seeing the ugly faces of these bad elements everywhere including with Prime Minister and ministers? Why are we not boycotting these low lifes? Have we become morally insensitive and bankrupt? This is a question to all the people who know about the third rate activities by these low lifes and still do not make a stand against them!”
Now, be cool. Take deep breaths. My blood too was boiling after reading this. As I said, we all have a natural tendency to become a moral Police, while ignoring the long sticks in our eyes. What could be the motivation for a person to feel aggravated to that extend? It could be
1. 1. A natural desire to save our daughters or for that matter someone else’s from being in such a situation
2. 2. To punish the guilty
3. 3. The feeling that ‘ everyone is having a good time except me, so should not allow this to happen, I also want a share of the pie’
4. 4. The revelation that only people with big mouths and bigger noises will get noticed. This is an opportunity to make my presence felt.
Whatever may be the reasons behind it, it is best not to discuss it here. What happens behind the closed doors should be left for those individuals involved to resolve between themselves .It is not a community issue. It is rather a personal issue, where a lot of give and take is involved. One should be given the right to decide what is good for them or not. Australia has strict laws to help its citizens get justice. There is no need for any victim to come out open in the community throwing dirt on everyone, to please these moral code enforcers. If they wish, they can make a direct complaint to the police and for that matter, they don’t need the advice of anyone in the community. That is a personal choice.
And for the tail end:
In 2005, India TV’s India’s Most Wanted, an investigative TV show, caught Indian Idol host Aman Verma and longtime Bollywood actor Shakti Kapoor in a “sting” operation and accused them of abusing their positions to force women to have sex with them. They even produced video evidence of Kapoor making advances to a planted girl, in which Kapoor tells the girl that superstars Aishwarya Rai, Rani Mukerji and Preity Zinta slept with people such as Subhash Ghai, Yash Chopra and Yash Johar to get where they were. Verma, Kapoor and most of the Bollywood industry have defended themselves, calling India TV’s claims unfounded and sensational and claim that the video footage of Kapoor is misleading.
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