Dirty Picture : The Muted Story of Nepali Film Industry
“I know I appear to you as a very happy Woman and a leading Actress in Nepali Film Industry, nothing to worry about at all…I am much more than just this happy face..A very busy and so-called Successful Actress; I don’t deny I enjoy this success a lot, after all, this was what I yearned for, but the abuses I have faced to reach this height have left me a wreck from within. It’s just that I have learned to act really well in reel as well as real life. I have been acting from the moment I decided to enter this industry. I act a lot: I manage to maintain a cheerful facade, disregarding the indelible subordination that grabs me from within. Looking back to the way I took here is like taking a way down a very steep hill; my heart still rends when I think about the wounds I have inflicted upon myself while struggling to climb up.”
Abovementioned was just a part of monologue from an actress who has gone through an episode of casting couch mentality- another severe victim of sexual abuse among countless Nepalese women. The casting couch is a term used for defining the trading of sexual favors by an aspirant, apprentice employee, or subordinate to a superior, in return for entry into an occupation, or for other career advancement within an organization. This term originally generated from the film industry, and we were in a quest to validate its existence in film industry, here in Nepal. After series of interviews with number of actresses from Nepali film industry, all we’ve got to say is - Don’t deny the severe existence of ‘casting couch’ in Nepali Film Industry. Even we are horrified after finally being able to unveil the very dark side of Nepali film industry. It aches our heart to bring forward to you ‘The Dirty Picture’ of Nepal which compromises of emotional and physical abuses our Heroines have gone through to ultimately live their dream.
Here is a brief report on what actually happened to the actress whose monologue has been presented before.
Young Miss Rita was struggling to be an actress against the will of her parents. She had left her home and her college in pursuit of her dream. She admitted to have the following confrontation with a director at the start of her career, while she was getting interviewed for the selection of the caste.
Director: So, Miss, are you aware that you have to make a lot of contributions to enter the film line?
Miss Rita: Yes Sir, I have made many contributions and compromises myself. I left my college and left my homes to be an actress .I have struggled a lot, sir.
Director: That is not at all important. Miss, it’s not enough! You have to compromise a lot more than that.
When Miss Rita realized what he had meant, she was disgusted… She had gone against her parent’s will, and then, she knew there was no returning back.
A friend of Miss Rita, one of the very busy actresses of Nepali film industry, who is one of the sources of our information, says that the director has a daughter older than Miss Rita.
“I know the man and it is all ridiculous and disgusting! How would he feel if somebody did that to his daughter? ” proclaimed Miss Rita’s friend rhetorically.
Let’s glance black a bit into the background of Casting Couch here in Nepal. Do you remember the scandal about Shrisha Karki- another pretty face of Nepali film industry? In 2002, she committed suicide after a weekly published a report exposing the casting couch syndrome in Nepal's film industry which exploited Shrisha ,by publishing her nude photograph, and other vulnerable newcomers like her. Now, think about the extent to which this syndrome of casting couch can harm women. It robbed Shrisha of her life!
We have come to conclude that casting in Nepali film industry still involves a lot of sexual abuse by those possess the power to influence the caste of the films. It’s a deep-rooted mindset. Here is another gruesome incident of sexual abuse which an actress, waiting to casted, went through.
Director /producer asked Miss Sikha to go out with him to Nagarkot to view the location for the shoot, and then the darkness within a man’s heart brought an end to the delightful perception of the world by another innocent heart…
Director: Sikha, let’s go out to Nagarkot to view the location.
Sikha (Amazed): Sir, why do I need to go to Nagarkot when I am not even sure if I am going to be casted?
Director (rudely): If you don’t learn to compromise, you won’t go far in this industry.
This is a common way of giving offer in the film industry.
Casting Couch- a very serious form of sexual abuse against women plays a big role in undermining women and Nepali Film industry as a whole. Should the heroine be chosen on the basis of her talent or on the basis of contributions she can make to directors/producers? This might be a reason that abstains capable women from diverse backdrop within our society from entering this industry. They are aware if they do not agree to be sexually abused, they have no future in this industry. Therefore, existence of Casting Couch is an one of the serious obstacle to the growth of ‘Kollywood’.
And what about the victims of the casting couch? They will obviously have to live with their past haunting them, forever. This- another way mankind has invented which sometimes even results to suicide -pinches our heart. Casting couch, far surpassing from just being a concern of the acting field, has spread its claws to other fields like music and arts. Women are already enduring too much and this exponential spreading of casting couch syndrome is frightening. It is all of our duty to fight casting couch by making sure that people who make such dirty offers get punished. In order to help women who might be victimized, those who have already been victimized must raise their voice, given circumstances permit. We are surrounded by women whom we love a lot, and who knows who the next victim might be?
*Names have been changed for privacy.