A director said he wants to know every inch of my body: Surveen Chawla recalls her terrifying casting couch experiences
There’s no secret regarding the existence of casting couch in the Indian Film Industry. Last year, in the wake of MeToo Movement in India, several actresses had come out with their horrific stories of sexual advances and named top filmmakers and producers. Now for the very first time, actor Surveen Chawla has opened up about facing casting couch not just in Bollywood but down south too. From being called an over-exposed actor to being called overweight at 56 kilos, the actor has managed to come out of this all.
In a recent interview with an entertainment portal, the Sacred Games actor revealed that she has faced five such situations during her journey in films till now. Opening about one such experience, Surveen said, “Then came south and that was my biggest blow. I faced casting couch thrice. There was a time when I was asked to accompany a director for a film recce and he said to me, “We have language problem. I want to know every inch of your body.” I could not believe my ears as to what I am hearing.”
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Recalling another incident she said, “This was another ridiculously big director down south, a National Award-winning director. I had a very long audition there, it almost lasted a shift. I was unwell and I returned after the audition. Then the director suddenly offered to come to Mumbai as I was unwell. I found it very creepy.”
She added, “On the same phone call, in which he spoke to me through someone, maybe a friend. That person told me on the phone that ‘sir needs to know you, he needs to understand you as this film will take a long time to make’. And then he jumped to ‘only till the film and then you can stop’. I very innocently asked him, ‘stop what?’ So, he said ‘just till the film this will go on; then you can stop’. I told him that you are knocking on the wrong door. If sir thinks I am talented then I am still willing to work in his film but I cannot barter myself. And that film also didn’t happen.”
What about Bollywood? She says she’s faced enough here as well. “It happened quite recently, last to last year. I had to barge out of an office because of someone trying to insinuate an act and I will never do that,” she went on to add, “A director wanted to see how my cleavage looked. Another director wanted to see how my thighs looked. This kind of stuff happens.”
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The actor started her showbiz journey with Ekta Kapoor’s show Kahiin To Hoga, which she calls a cakewalk. However, it wasn’t a smooth ride thereafter, her real struggle started when she decided to make a transition into South films around 2010 but was told she was ‘over exposed because of television.’ “There was a time when people told me you are over exposed because of television. For some time, I tried to hide it from producers and tell them I did TV only for a year but I realised later that ‘Why am I doing this?’ Isn’t it going to be easier for a team to get someone who already knows how to do their lines?”
On the work front, Surveen was last seen as Jojo in popular web series Sacred Games.