Sonu Nigam, a top-notch Hindi singer, says that men are not safe in Bollywood, opening a Pandora's box. It ha s managed to catch the attentions of many people. Sonu Nigam has accused a senior film journalist Subhash K Jha of harassing him for sexual favors in return for publicity.
The casting couch is a well-known feature of Bollywood but till now was employed against the girls in the industry.
Sonu Nigam accuses Jha of harboring a personal vendetta against him. The journalist has been haunting the singer with blatantly suggestive sexual motives. Sonu's disinterest and subsequent denial to Jha's ulterior moves led the journalist to a 'Sonu bashing mission'. The singer claims that the journalist had been 'purposely and intently rubbishing his hard earned reputation by repeated stories criticizing his singing prowess in various leading newspapers'.
Sonu says "There was a time when women were under constant sexual subjugation but now it's the turn of the men to bear the brunt." Sonu is in the US regarding some shows. He is believed to have received threatening calls. The caller has told him that he would be killed when he comes back to Mumbai.
On the other hand, Subhash K Jha said that he will go to court and file a case against the singer.
After Sonu's revelation many actors and models are coming to the fore with their experience of the said incident.
"I still remember how a model coordinator approached me and kept calling me till I told him I was not his cup of tea," says Sonu Sood, who played Abhishek Bachchan's elder brother in Yuva and a parallel lead with Emraan Hashmi in Aashiq Banaya Aapne.
Nigar Khan's husband and actor Sahil Khan (who debuted in N Chandra's Style) was also approached by another co-ordinator during a party and promised a lead role if he compromised.
"There were days when a producer would call an actress that she may have to compromise (meaning sleep with him) since the project was worth crores. Now, even male actors are subjected to similar overtures," Khan said.
Veteran film publicist Rajoo Kariya says, "One out of every five aspirants is a victim of the male casting couch. Not just freshers, even known actors are victimised. Sonu is just one of them who chose to speak out."
"Why blame us when the models themselves make offers and we put it forward to the concerned clients?" asked Hanif Mohd, a model coordinator based in the suburbs, who has around 2,500 male actors and models enrolled with him. He claims that at least 1,500 of them are bisexuals.
According to Mahesh Bhatt what makes the men make their moves even more freely today is the fact that "It's an indication of changing times. As the elite class is getting more comfortable with alternate sexuality there is an acceptance of their preferences. The matter of course goes out of hand when it is forced upon someone."
Sonu further states, "It was time that we had to bring this issue up because it is being misused unabashedly. I recall a few years back my brother in law Ravi, who was an aspiring model, was given an indecent proposal by a famous name in the industry. Shocked and surprised the poor guy left his dream."
Interestingly, it's not only Sonu who has a quirky tale to tell. Publicist Dale Bhagwagar who is the spokesperson for actors Shilpa Shetty and Shiney Ahuja relates, "Some years ago, Jha would call me in his capacity as a journalist to get in touch with the stars through me. During this time he started this strange practice of singing couplets for me. He would write poems praising me and would glorify me in his conversations. I used to have a hearty laugh over all this but I soon realized that this guy is up to something really strange."
Model Aashish Chaudhary agrees by saying, "Male casting couch on the ramp exists and it's a sick thing but then there are people who resort to such cheap tricks to further their interest."