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Casting couch debate in Telugu cinema gathers steam

Casting couch debate in Telugu cinema gathers steam

Telugu women film artistes shared their horrific experiences of sexual exploitation, being discriminated because of their colour, and getting less pay, in a round table conference on Sunday evening in Hyderabad. 

Several Telugu character artistes, women activists, NGOs, advocates and Tollywood actress Sri Reddy participated in the round table conference, which opened up a can of worms regarding the industry.

Actor-politician Pawan Kalyan who faced the ire of Sri Reddy for his remarks, asking her to fight in the court, not in the TV channels, also got a severe warning from other woman actors.

A junior artiste Shruti said, “We are denied roles because we are dark skinned and fat, by the same men and coordinators who slept with us promising us a role in their movies.” 

She talked of the poor working conditions, “Our leaders speak about Swachh Bharat, but artistes like us have to relieve ourselves in the open during shootings because there are no washroom facilities for us during the shoots.”

Progressive Organisation of Women (POW) state president Sandhya said, “The issues raised by Sri Reddy in the past few days echoed in today’s discussion too. There are sad stories behind each women artiste in the industry. The situation has to changed. There is an urgent need to conduct a study about casting couch in the film industry. The government should set up a toll-free number for women to the complaint against casting couch,”

An actress Apoorva alleged-,“We are working in film industry due to lack of employment. No hero is coming in open to support us. Film industry shall positively come in support of this fight against casting couch,”

Several women said that they are being exploited by the film actors, producers and directors.

Director Ram Gopal Varma on Sunday tweeted “Those condemning @MsSriReddy on how she can project herself as a social activist now when in her past she did such deeds and language she used, are not realising that a change of heart is what made even the tyrant king Ashoka great. Ashoka, the king, killed many people and then he had a change of heart and became a saviour of lakhs of people, and that is why I think @MsSri-Reddy is as Great as Ashoka the Great(SIC)”

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