‘If a woman has art, she won’t sell herself’ : Saroj Khan defends casting couch in a sexist rant

Recently, the Bollywood community came out to protest against sexual harassment and rape. A welcome step, considering the rampant sexism and sexual harassment in Bollywood itself. One did think that perhaps now, the Bollywood community that resorts to dancing to songs like “main to tandoori murgi hoon yaar, gatkaale saiyaan alchohol se” would wake up to the prejudices the Bollywood industry itself perpetuates and how it contributes to sexual biases.

It was indeed hilarious to watch an actress who glorified stalking, a woman who defended that glorification, and another who danced to the tunes of “tandoori murgi” protest against the manner in which women are treated.

The hypocrisy was evident. But today, finally, Saroj Khan, a senior member of the Bollywood fraternity has confirmed the horribly sexist mindset that the industry holds by going on a sexist rant and defending the ‘casting couch’ phenomenon.

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In her mindless rant, Saroj Khan asserted that “this has been going on for ages. Everyone wants to take advantage of women. Even the Government and people of the Government indulge in this. Why does everyone want to point only towards the Bollywood industry”.

In an even more shocking statement, defending casting couch, Saroj Khan said, “At least Bollywood gives them ‘roti’. Doesn’t rape and abandon the girls”.

Her rant, of course, didn’t stop just there. After singing praises of how benevolent Bollywood at least gives women ‘roti’ after abusing them, instead of abandoning them, she went on to shift the onus of the abuse on to the victims. She said, “It depends on the girl is she wants to be used or not. If she has talent, why would she sell herself? So don’t talk about Bollywood. That is out ‘maai-baap'”.

One wonders if the Bollywood will go beyond empty rhetoric and talk about what ails their Industry. Saroj Khan perhaps pegged it perfectly, “Bollywood roti to deti hai”. Maybe, it is all about commerce for Bollywood stars. Maybe, it is the convenience that matters and not the principles. It is entirely possible that their condemnation, protests and silence is also driven by the same need – ‘Roti’.

Bollywood is known to be a star-studded, hypocritical, steaming pile of mess, with certain exceptions, of course. It is time for the Industry to speak up even when their ‘roti’ isn’t dependant on it.


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