Never one to shy away from calling a spade a shovel, Rakhi Sawant now has a rather startling opinion on the ongoing debate on the casting couch and sexual harassment of strugglers in the film industry.
Rakhi admits to being a victim. “When I was a struggler, yes I did face the casting couch. But it wasn’t as if every producer or director I approached was guilty. As in every walk of life there is sexual corruption in the film industry. As far as I was concerned, this was just in the beginning .But I had talent and I didn’t have to give in. I learnt to say no. And I used my talents as an artiste to make my way through life. I suggest all strugglers have patience and not surrender to the temptation of short cuts.”
Rakhi completely supports Saroj Khan in the opinion that there is no coercion involved when sexual favours are exchanged. “Nobody rapes anyone in this film industry. It’s all consensual and voluntary. In this, I fully support Saroj Khanji. At least she has spoken her mind and let the world know the truth. People in Bollywood don’t speak out the truth about the casting couch although it is happening right here in front of their eyes. They feel they are making their way up why should they bother with what’s happening around them? Unka kya jata hai? I really admire Sarojji for letting the world know the reality that they have to face every every day. Sarojji has seen what goes here. I TOTALLY agree with her.”
The shocker from Sawant is the revelation on how rampant sexual favours are in the film industry. “Saroji has seen what goes on. Young girls are willing to make any compromise to get going in their career. Aaj kal to ladkiyan kehti hain, ‘Kuch bhi kar lo mujhe kaam de do’. Iss mein producer ki kya ghalti hai? Saroj Khanji is not wrong. A lot of girls come in the film industry to become heroines but become something else…you understand what I am saying? Call it destiny or what you will.”
Sawant’s advice to young aspirants? “Have faith in your talent. Have patience. Don’t give in to short cuts. I’ve seen so many girls throw themselves at producers. This is not good. I don’t want to take any names. Lekin aisa hota hai. It shouldn’t be so. Salman Khan and Priyanka Chopra are superstars because of their hard work and not for any other reason. The ones who take the short cut end up on a different track altogether. Don’t do this to yourself. And don’t blame producers for taking what you have to offer.”
Rakhi Sawant wants to stress that it’s not just girls who are casualties of sexual compromise. “Boys are equally prone to compromise in the entertainment and fashion industry. I keep telling the strugglers not to give in. Lekin kya karenge, Mumbai hai hi itni expensive city. I don’t want to denigrate Bollywood. But because Saroj Khan has raised her voice I am supporting her.”