Suchitra Krishnamoorthi is an actress, who has worked with Shah Rukh Khan in ‘Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa’. It was released in 1994 and was her first film. She was also supposed to be in ‘Circus’, which also had SRK in it, but it didn’t happen. Suchitra was also married to Shekhar Kapur and after she got divorced, she started a blog in which she shared a couple of incidents. Speaking of Shekhar Kapoor, Suchitra had once accused Preity Zinta of being the reason why her marriage didn’t work out. Preity, on the other hand, said Suchitra had mental problems and we shouldn’t listen to her. Anyways, this has nothing to do with her marriage situation and everything to do with the dirty world of Bollywood. Suchitra shared that before she got her first film, she was looking for work in Bollywood. This is when the incident below happened to her. By the way, this is an old story but worth sharing again.
Suchitra Krishnamoorthi talks about casting couch in Bollywood
I remember many years ago, while still in my teens-I had gone to meet a very sucessful producer regarding a film role at a plush suburban hotel at around 4 pm. He was an out of towner ‘ so was staying in that hotel-so the model co ordinator had told me. They were looking for a new face to launch. These meetings were something that made me very uncomfortable- but part of the business of breaking into bolllywood I was told so i quelled my nervousness, put on my best smile and went.
The producer greeted me kindly at the door. He sensed my discomfort.I noticed a large picture of his wife on his table I heaved a sigh of releif -she’ll join us later he assured me. He then asked me many questions about my background etc talking to me like one does to a child glancing at my portfolio pictures with enormous interest and complimenting me. I was used to that-i was already a succesful model by then having done many commercials and endorsements.He then decided to try to get to know me more. After all it was a huge film he was planning and shooting was to be somewhere in the south (hyderabad i think-for almost a month)
“How many brother sisters do you have? Which school did you study in? ” the questions went on. What does your father do? “hes a commisioner of Incom tax” i told him ” and mother? housewife? ” No. My mother is Head of the department of history at KC college” blah blah
I was begining to feel comfortable. Sweet uncle i thought. Family type.He asked me who i am closer to- my mother or my father?
“My father” i smiled. “my mother is a little strict.
He nodded understandingly and smiled
“Ok phone your father ” he smiled even broader.
I panicked-because my parents had banned me from becoming an actress -in their eyes it was the most deplorable profession in the world.They wanted me to do an MBA or CA and would be livid if they knew i was taking these film meetings behind their back instead of attending college.
I would be housebound and all the jhagda would start again. So i asked defiantly “why should i phone my father?He’ll be in office-i cant disturb him”
“Relax” he told me smiling, a peculiar look creeping into his eyes. I was too young and innocent to understand the expression
“If you want i will phone him. To tell him to pick you up tomorrow morning from my hotel”
I didnt get the gist of what he was saying and looked at him dumb as a dodo “relax. Just tell your father you are spending the night with me at the hotel and that he should come and pick you up in the morning!!”
I panicked and started to gather my belongings
“i have to leave” i belched in terror
” relax” he told me again. “I will speak to your father”
He was begining to get irritated and impatient but tried to calm me down “your wife?” i squeaked glancing at her photograph. WTF was going on?
“she is a good understanding lady” he told me with great pride. She will meet you tomorrow”
i dashed to the door
“you want to be an actress you have to do!!” He called after me , still speaking to me as if i was a child
“How do you expect to get anywhere in films if you dont do it??!! there are 1000’s of girls out there who will die to get this break i am offering you”
‘Excuse me sir I am not interested”
i was holding back my tears, my heart thudding. What if the old geyzer pounced on me right there and then
“Listen to me” he sounded annoyed and his voice was now raised as if talking to a disobedient child “I know you are a good girl but If you want to become an actress you have to do it! So and so and so and so-(he named some of the top league actresses of that time)she do it. She do it and even she do it! They are my discovery. Everybody has to do it”
I ran out crying all the way home. I was too ashamed to tell my parents about what had happened. Everytime i heard the phrase “do it” or “do” or “you have to do ”
bile climbed up my throat. For a long time. For years afterwards
Suchitra also talked about how the casting couch was a normal thing back then in her book
‘Struggling to counter the I-told-you-so, finger-wagging warnings of my parents with the shady cloak-and-dagger shenanigans of the film world was doubly confounding for me.’
‘Suchitra, you want to be an actress, you must do…’
‘Do? Do what?’
I could never figure out the code of conduct that newbies in showbiz were bound to follow by some unwritten law. It was the ‘they’ syndrome all over again.
‘Do. All actress — they do. They must do. Where are your parents? You phone them just now. I’ll explain it to them.’
Oh no! Had he guessed my runaway status, the fact that I was living on my own?
‘Er… my parents will be in office now…I can’t disturb them…’
‘Okay, no problem. Phone them later. Who are you more close to — your mother or father?’
‘My father. Amma is a little strict, but Nana is very kind…’
‘So will you phone your Nana in the evening and tell him to pick you up from my hotel tomorrow morning?’
Tomorrow morning? What was I supposed to do till then? The old geezer was stodgy as hell. Had body odour, too. He was boring me already.
‘Where are you running away, child? I told you to be an actress you must do. Now relax…’
Oh really? Do him? Boo Hoo.
Doobey doobey doo.
And f*** you!
I’m happy that these things don’t happen so much now. When I was young, these were a given. And it would baffle me, the way the world functioned. But people saw it as a norm. I’m laughing about it now, but that time, it used to be horrifying.
And it was all consensual. My dad would have landed up with a gun!