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HomeEntertainmentActress Zoya Rathore says Kundra associate Umesh Kamat approached her for HotShots, reveals how...

Actress Zoya Rathore says Kundra associate Umesh Kamat approached her for HotShots, reveals how men and women are lured into porn

Zoya Rathore has appeared in several shows, including 'Saubhagyawati Bhava', 'Bade Achche Lagte Hain' and 'Fear Files'.

Amidst an ongoing case against Raj Kundra and several others in connection to producing and publishing pornographic content, actress Zoya Rathore, one of the actresses who had worked for such platforms, has come forward to share the ordeal.

Hailing from Nagpur, Zoya shifted to Mumbai in 2004 and joined a BPO. She slowly tried to enter the industry, but according to her, was misguided by fly-by-night producers. During her struggling days, she was repeatedly asked to compromise if she needed a good break.

‘We had no option’

In her interview with Times of India, Rathore said that she is facing backlash from the people in the industry for raising her voice against it. She is getting trolled, and people are questioning her credentials. However, the reality is much different from what people are anticipating. “I came out to say why we did what we did. We had no option and were told by the makers that if we don’t do it, someone else would be ready to take that job up. I maintain that I would not want to do what is illegal, and there was no clarity on what is bold and what is porn”.

In her interviews with ABP News and India Today, she said that the situation since the pandemic reached India is bad for the industry. Zoya said that majority of the struggling actors went back to their home states, but some could not leave Mumbai and living there is expensive. In such circumstances, girls, including her, are being lured into the porn industry.

“They are not presenting the right facts. I know porn is illegal in India, and I questioned the producers multiple times that what they are asking to do sounds like porn and not erotica, but they assured me that it is all legal,” she said.

She further added that the producers who approached her gave examples of stars like Radhika Apte, who had shot for the scenes with partial nudity on large platforms like Netflix. She added, “I would turn around and tell them that they are paid in lakhs for those scenes, and here we don’t get money and are getting penalised from all sides. We are just acting and performing in those scenes”. Normally, Zoya was being offered Rs.20,000 per day for her roles in erotic films.

Rathore has appeared in several shows, including ‘Saubhagyawati Bhava’, ‘Bade Achche Lagte Hain’ and ‘Fear Files’. While talking about the producers who tried to exploit her, she said, “People misguide you, and the term ‘compromise’ is definitely used a lot. Most of the newcomers who come to Mumbai to become actors don’t know who real film producers are, and they often get conned. I came across one such person who lied to me that I had been shortlisted for a role in a film that was being headlined by Emraan Hashmi and Kangana Ranaut. The producer told me I would have one scene with Emraan but compromise Karna padega (I’ll have to compromise). At times, I was told to spend time with the producer. I did not compromise, and I was confident as an actor, so I started working in small films in which I didn’t need to compromise, although even these films had bold scenes. Those films were censored at the time when Sharmila Tagore was the CBFC chairperson and released with an ‘A’ certificate”.

Zoya’s scenes were leaked as MMS clips

Rathore talked about an incident that permanently labelled her as a porn actor. One of the producers used raw clips of her intimate scene and used them for a publicity stunt. The clips were leaked as MMS that led to the tag of the porn actor, and her life changed forever. She said, “It was a huge setback for me in real life. My personal life got affected as my fiancé got upset with me. I also went to the cyber cell to complain about it when the producer refused to accept that he had done it.”

For some time, she did not do any bold films. Currently, she is living in Vasai as a single mother. She said, “I was not getting work in mainstream movies, and most of the time we were made to sit the whole day with excuses fed to us like there’s a friendly appearance by Akshay Kumar in the film, or it’s Radhika Apte’s production, but nothing happens beyond that. I stay in Vasai and for me to travel to studios in Andheri every day is really taxing and expensive”.

Lockdown changed the lives of everyone in the industry, said Zoya Rathore

Zoya said that when the first lockdown was eased in 2020, there was high demand for bold web series. Mukesh Agarwal, a filmmaker, got in touch with her, who had known her for a long. She said, “He tracked me down and told me that I have a good body of work and I should return to work. He promised I would get good pay. Initially, I was reluctant, but after he shared some music videos, which featured girls in bikinis, I agreed to do it.”

‘Those who claimed everything is legal were the first ones to go to jail’

The work started to flow quickly after the project. She was being offered even bolder scenes in future projects. She said, “It was being produced by Yash Thakur, who apparently lives in Singapore and is not accessible to anyone. But he is the one who has made maximum bold content. I was also offered work by another company, Hothit, who offered payments depending upon what kind of boldness I showed while shooting for their film and had proper papers which stated that they would not ask me to do anything that I am not comfortable doing. They are the first ones to go to jail”.

Offer from Hotshot linked to Kundra

Zoya never met or spoke to Raj Kundra. Just days before his arrest, she was approached by Umesh Kamat from his office. Kamat claimed that he was managing HotShots. She said, “He told me that he wanted to give me a big break but with the rider that I would have to give a nude audition on a video call which I refused to do.”

She added, “I have never spoken to Raj Kundra, but Umesh Kamat was in touch with me, trying to convince me to work with Hotshot just two days before he got arrested. But there was another man named Roy who called me from Singapore and said that he wanted a nude audition. He had dropped HotShot’s name too”.

‘Boys face great exploitation’

Zoya claimed that the porn industry is even worse for men. “Boys are also exploited in this business. Those who are uncomfortable showing off their bodies lose out to those who are ready to go nude for the show. There are boys who come from theatre and are good actors and have worked in good serials. They are told that if they don’t remove their underwear and don’t show their entire back, they will not be given work. The boys are asked for normal auditions on the phone and told that regular, bold content would be shot, and the budget will be Rs 5000 per day. But once they are on set, they are told that if they are ready to perform real sex, their budget will go up to Rs 15000, and they promised that they would become big stars as the porn industry is booming. That is how they motivate them to perform real sex”.

‘I am much relaxed and happy’: Zoya Rathore

Zoya said since new rules were imposed on OTT platforms, the content is slowly getting regulated. It has put a cap on bold content as well. She said, “My payment has reduced to half of what I got paid, but I am happy to work in this new environment, and I am much relaxed now. I am happy that humein ab bikini se aage kuch nahi utarna padta hai (I am glad that we don’t have to undress beyond a bikini now)”.

The pornographic racket

In February 2021, the Property Cell of Mumbai Police arrested a few people linked to a pornographic case after they received a tip that a film was being shot at a location at Madh Island. A total of five people were arrested in the initial arrest, and six more were arrested later. Actress Gehana Vasisht, Producer Rowa Khan and her Husband were the main accused in the case. In June, all of them got bail after spending four months in Jail.

In July 2020, Actress Shilpa Shetty’s husband, Raj Kundra, was arrested in the case. It is believed that he was the mastermind behind the app hotshots. In the raid at properties related to Kundra, Police allegedly found evidence against him. Kundra is currently under judicial custody.

According to Zoya, Mumbai Police has a long list of actors who have worked in such films, and they are calling them one by one to ask them to cooperate. When India Today asked her if she was called by the Police, she denied it and said that she would cooperate if the Police call in the future.

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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