- Saroj Khan warned reporters against targeting Bollywood
- "Woh (film industry) humaara mai-baap hai," she said
- Saroj Khan has choreographed Madhuri Dixit, Aishwarya Rai among others
Saroj Khan also said that the casting couch is founded on the principle of consent, that artistes have a choice and that they can choose not to work with someone who has asked for favours. "Tumhare paas art hai toh tum kyun bechoge apne aap ko? (Why would you sell yourself is you have the talent?)" Ms Khan warned reporters against criticising the film industry because "woh humaara mai-baap hai."
Yeh ladki ke upar hai ki tum kya karna chahti ho. Tum uske haath mein nahi aana chahti ho toh nahi aaogi. Tumhare paas art hai toh tum kyun bechoge apne aap ko? Film industry ko kuch mat kehna, woh humaara mai-baap hai: Saroj Khan on Casting Couch. pic.twitter.com/kYpPAPWMtB— ANI (@ANI) April 24, 2018
Ms Khan's unsavoury defence of what is the film fraternity's dirtiest secret has triggered heated debate on social media. Singer Sophie Choudry, among many others, were shocked by Saroj Khan's words, writing: "So much respect for Saroj-ji as a choreographer but this is how she uses her position to protect girls?" She also tweeted:
Can't begin to think what thousands of girls go through in the hope that their "dreams" will come true! Nobody wants to sleep with someone for work. But they are made to feel it's the only way & "acceptable". And for those who don't, it's a tough road! This has to stop! #TimesUp— Sophie Choudry (@Sophie_Choudry) April 24, 2018
There were several tweets that echoed Sophie's sentiments:
Livelihood can be provided to them without asking sexual favours too. No?— the Guy next door (@insane_host) April 24, 2018
What's wrong is always wrong nothing can defend it.#SarojKhan
#sarojkhan i am indian and i am ashamed of bollywood— Ayaan Tiwari (@ayaantiwaricr7) April 24, 2018
Others on Twitter say Saroj Khan only spoke the truth:
No point in Shooting the messenger. She just spoke about the bitter truth !! It has been an open secret and most Bollywood actors/actresses who pretend to be holier than thou need to wake up & smell coffee !! #SarojKhan— Sham K Rao (@Shamkrao) April 24, 2018
It is a reality of Bollywood ..90% actresses r Victim of Casting couch type physical sexual harassment— Abhishek Anand (@I_am___Abhishek) April 24, 2018
sex for movies is a casual culture.. It has been revealed by Top actresses in past & present & now #sarojkhan statement is mirror of Dark side of Bollywood hw women r treated
While most Bollywood celebrities skate around the topic, some have revealed their personal stories of the casting couch and of being asked for sexual favours in return for roles. Actress Tisca Chopra wrote a viral Facebook post some years ago, detailing her experience with a big time filmmaker. Actor Ranveer Singh has spoken about being targeted by a male producer. Ileana D'Cruz and Richa Chadha said that the survivors of the casting couch often don't name their violators for the fear of losing work. Both actresses have said that opening the can of worms could end careers. Speaking to news agency PTI, Richa said: "If you give me pension for life, take care of my safety, my family, ensure I'll continue to get work in films and TV or whatever I want to do, my career will grow unabated as it is right now after I name and shame somebody, sure I will. Not just me, million others will do that. But who will do it?"
Last year, Hollywood's Harvey Weinstein scandal resurrected debates about the casting couch and sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry. 'Me Too' and 'Time's Up' campaigns were launched to help the survivors of Weinsteingate and many artistes came forward with their stories accusing several other celebrities such as Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer among others.
Saroj Khan won her first National Award for choreographing the song Dola Re from Devdas, picturised on Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. In a career spanning three decades, Saroj Khan has worked with Kareena Kapoor, Rani Mukerji, Aamir Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Preity Zinta, Kajol, Raveena Tandon and most other top stars.
Recently, one of her famous songs - Ek Do Teen - was redone for Baaghi 2.