Choreographer Saroj Khan’s statements on the casting couch and why girls are often forced to get on it, has created an uproar. Adding fuel to the fire was politician Renuka Chowdhary who opined that sexual favours are sought and given in politics as well.
Jumping to the defence of both the ladies Shatrughan Sinha says, “Neither Saroj Khan nor Renuka Choudhary is wrong. Sexual favours are demanded and given in both the entertainment world and in politics. It’s an old and time-tested way of getting ahead in life. ‘You please me I’ll please you.’ Yeh toh hamesha se hota aa raha hai issmein itna naraaz hone ki kya baat hai? (this has been happening since time immemorial. What is there to get so upset about)? Saroj Khan’s contribution to choreography and to shaping the careers of Rekha, Madhuri Dixit and the late much-missed Sridevi, was invaluable. Saroj Khan is a legend in her own right. She often speaks from her heart and lets emotional correctness rule over political correctness. If she said that girls have to compromise sexually in Bollywood she must be aware of what goes on.” Here is where Shatrughan Sinha serves up a shocker. “I completely agree with both Saroj and Renuka. I know the kind of compromises girls have to make to get into films. Perhaps Sarojji has herself gone through her own pain and humiliation. As for politics, I don’t know what we can call the casting couch in politics maybe the casting-vote couch. Of course the young aspiring brigade is known to offer sexual favours and of course the senior brigade is known to accept. I am not saying it is right. I would never be part of such a compromise. But we cannot shut our eyes to the reality around us. Don’t condemn Sarojji for speaking the truth. Condemn those who create a situation where girls and boys feel they have to compromise to get ahead in life.”
However Shatruji is quick to point out that the casting couch is a personal choice. “What happens on the couch or wherever two people come together, is a matter of a personal choice. No one is forcing any girl or boy to lie down on the coach. You have something to give and you are offering it to someone who is interested. Where is the coercion or compulsion?”