Saroj Khan's Shocker On Casting Couch: At Least Film Industry Gives Work, Doesn't Rape And Abandon

Saroj Khan defended casting couch saying artistes have a choice: "Why do they sell themselves if they have talent?"

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Saroj Khan's Shocker On Casting Couch: At Least Film Industry Gives Work, Doesn't Rape And Abandon

Saroj Khan at an event in Mumbai.

New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Saroj Khan warned reporters against targeting Bollywood
  2. "Woh (film industry) humaara mai-baap hai," she said
  3. Saroj Khan has choreographed Madhuri Dixit, Aishwarya Rai among others
Saroj Khan, veteran choreographer of films like Tezaab and Devdas, justified the casting couch - the exchange of sexual favours for work in the film industry - at a press conference held in Mumbai on Tuesday, describing it as "age-old" and asking "why the entertainment industry alone should be targeted," reports news agency ANI. Ms Khan has now apologised for her comments, after a deluge of outraged headlines. Ms Khan, a three-time National Award-winner, told reporters at the press conference: ":Tum film industry ke peeche kyun pade ho? Woh kam se kam roti toh deti hai. Rape karke chhod toh nahi deti. (Why are you targeting the film industry? At least, it gives you work and doesn't abandon you)."

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."
 

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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:
 

There were several tweets that echoed Sophie's sentiments:
 

Others on Twitter say Saroj Khan only spoke the truth:
 
 

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.

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She has judged dance reality shows Nach Baliye 5 and Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa.

Recently, one of her famous songs - Ek Do Teen - was redone for Baaghi 2.

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