The ‘casting couch’ still exists, as exposed by a sting operation
There has been much focus on the plight of young women in the Kannada film industry after a sting operation by a private TV channel allegedly exposed a ‘casting couch’ involving a few Kannada film-makers seeking favours from young girls in return for promoting them in films.
Insiders in the industry say it is common for women to be exploited in the tinsel world. However, there seems to be no effort to address the issue.
The Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) expressed its helplessness, citing absence of complaints from victims, while the Kannada Film Directors’ Association is satisfied with issuing notices to film-makers in question. The Kannada Artistes’ Association is still groping in the dark.
One of the film-makers allegedly caught in the sting ‘operation’ is noted director Omprakash Rao, who has directed over 25 films, including Lockup Death, Huchcha, Kalasipalya, Ayya and Chandralekha. The others who were caught include Guru Deshpande and producers Diwakar Babu and Rajashekar.
Despite the involvement of high-profile names, film bodies have done little. However, Mr. Omprakash blamed vested interests of plotting against him.
Several independent voices in the film industry have, however, raised serious concerns. Describing the exposure as a “black spot” on the eight-decade-old Kannada industry, veteran actor Shivaram said: “Though women were exploited in the past, it is not the way they are being treated now.”
Many artistes believe that the increasing lure of the film world has attracted young girls from around the country. In their desperation for success, they end up being exploited. Condemning the alleged exploitation of women, former chairperson of KFCC and MLC, Jaimala said: “It is a blot on the Kannada film industry, which has a great tradition of respecting women.”
Compared to their male counterparts, women actors in the lead are paid less. While some prominent male leads, according to industry sources, are getting between Rs. 3 to 4 crore a movie, women leads are being offered just Rs.15 to Rs. 50 lakh. Recently, actor-turned-politician Ramya sought to know why women actors were being paid less even after toiling so hard. Similarly, actor-turned-member of the Legislative Council, Tara, also raised her voice against discrimination in remuneration. A top actor on condition of anonymity said “sometimes, producers will not pay the amount agreed upon”.