Rina Golan – Author of the book Dear Mister Bollywood
Subhash Ghai – Filmmaker
Anup Jalota – Singer
Anees Bazmee – Producer and director
The casting couch is nothing new to Bollywood. Stories abound on how powerful filmmakers and actors exploit newcomers promising them roles. Various sting operations too have been conducted in which these nefarious liaisons were exposed. However, a huge scandal broke out when author Rina Golan came out with a book - Dear Mister Bollywood: How I Fell in Love with India, Bollywood and Shah Rukh Khan, that was circulated at the MAMI Festival in 2010. The contents were explosive – the New York based struggling actress detailed how some big names in the industry including Subhash Ghai, Aneez Bazmee, Anoop Jalota and celebrity physiotherapist Dr Ali Irani had propositioned her. Though the sales of the book were initially terrible, when the media picked on what the contents were, the sales increased and there was a lot of buzz around it.
WHO WAS RINA GOLAN
THE NEW YORK BASED Rina Golan had visited India several times during which she fell in love with Bollywood. She decided to try her luck in films and made Mumbai her base, putting up at a motel in the city. During her period of struggle, she would visit studios and ad agencies with her portfolio just like any other aspiring actress would do. Though not much is known of her meetings or interaction with the who’s who of Bollywood, what Rina published in her book was rather shocking.
THE SUBHASH GHAI SCANDAL
IN HER BOOK, RINA accused Ghai, who had directed super-hit films like Hero, Ram Lakhan, and Khalnayak among others, of making an indecent proposal. She wrote, “Subhash (Ghai) said, ‘I want you to trust me and surrender to me completely. I will take you around with me everywhere and you will see how your life will change’. Subhash took me to the bedroom... I decided to change my normal approach and abandon my principles. But there was no way I could fool myself. If I had made it this far without giving in to some powerful guy offering to help me then why should I give up now?”
Subhash Ghai, in his defence, told a leading daily that he was not aware of any such book and couldn’t recall her name. He further added, “If you say that derogatory things have been said by her about me, it's her choice. In our profession we do get bouquets and bricks all the time from known and unknown both. We can't even react.” Ghai then kept a low profile for quite a while.
ALLEGATIONS AGAINST ANOOP JALOTA
ABOUT RENOWNED GHAZAL & BHAJAN singer Anoop Jalota, Golan pointed out that he would take special care of her and in return, would ask her to keep him company wherever he went… even if it was at the oddest hours! She wrote, “Anoop said, ‘You don't have to worry. You are not alone anymore. From now on, you will be part of our music group’. Just when I was beginning to trust him and let my guard down, he broke his promise. When we were flying to different shows around India, Anoop would always make sure that we were sitting together on the airplane. I would have preferred to sit with other musicians. But he always insisted that I sit next to him.”
Reportedly, Anoop had even asked Rina if she knew that his wife was very sick and when she said she was aware of this, he bluntly expressed that he was tired of her illness and wanted to run away. Reportedly, the singer wanted to have a physical relationship outside his marriage! According to Rina, Anoop called her his ‘good friend’ and even told her that he was ‘thinking about cheating on his wife’.
Though the book titled Dear Mister Bollywood: How I Fell in Love with India Bollywood and Shah Rukh Khan, was all about Rina’s love for Shah Rukh, the salacious details got all the attention.
Anoop didn’t completely deny knowing Rina but he refuted her stories. He published a statement that said, “Jab aise logo ko kuch milta nahi hai to woh yeh sab bakvas likhte hai. I have just come back from Israel after doing a show. I am not denying the fact that I know this girl. She had worked and done many shows with me as a chorus singer. She used to also play keyboards. I think she was a part of my group 2-3 years ago and she was here to start some business. But I guess that didn't happen and she left. I have not even spoken to her in the last 2-3 years.”
When he was asked whether he had discussed his wife's health and his personal life with her, he said, "Everyone is aware of my wife's health and it is no secret.”
WELCOME DIRECTOR ANEES BAZMEE wasn’t spared either. This is what Rina wrote about him: “‘I’m going to come over and we are just going to eat, nothing else? No, we will also have fun’, Anees said. In an instant, all my respect for him had turned into disgust. Anees was no longer a cool director. He was just another powerful guy wanting to take advantage of me just because he supposedly was in a higher position.”
Anees’ response to Rina’s accusation was, “I have never even heard the name of this girl. It is the cheapest level of publicity that anyone can get and I have been in the industry for 35 years. I have never ever been accused of anything like this before. Neither am I aware of any such book nor do I know this girl. I think it is in very bad taste and an attempt to malign my reputation.”
While it was not known who was telling the truth, fact of the matter is that Rina Golan did work with him. She starred in one of his movies, Welcome in which she had a very small role as Katrina’s friend. She’s clearly seen in a shot where where Katrina saves Akshay Kumar from a fire. Strange, but true!
DR. ALI IRANI
CELEBRITY PHYSIOTHERAPIST Dr ALI IRANI, who was famous for treating Shah Rukh Khan, was also attacked in the book. Golan wrote about him: “Surprisingly, he leaned over and... I was disgusted. 'What are you doing? I am not your girlfriend...' 'Then why don't you be my girlfriend?' 'You are too old for me.' Doctor Ali was in his 50s. “If you are my girlfriend, I could open a lot of doors for you and help you make all your dreams come true,’” he said.
All the men accused by Golan confidently dismissed her claims and the story too died out in a few weeks. This wasn’t the first time a struggling actress spoke about the casting couch. Remember Masala! narrated the infamous Madhur Bhandarkar-Preeti Jain scandal and the Dibakar Banerjee-Payal Rohatgi scandal?
Whether Rina's claims are true or was it just a publicity stunt still remains a mystery.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW:
Rina Golan is in Israel. Though nothing much is known of her whereabouts. She maintained a safe distance from Bollywood once her book was released.
Subhash Ghai, recently made Kaanchi: The unbreakable and is quite active in the film industry.
Anees Bazmee is currently busy shooting for the sequel to Welcome – Welcome Back.
Anoop Jalota, popularly known as Bhajan Samraat, received the Padma Shri honour in the year 2012.
Rina Golan is quite active on social media, especially Twitter. In Israel, she reportedly even tried her hand at anchoring for news channel.
Golan claims that her love for Bollywood has not diminished because of her experiences. “My book is about Shah Rukh Khan. I needed to reach out to him. I fell in love with India, Bollywood and SRK,” said Rina, adding, “Yes, I have had some good and some bad experiences in the industry. But that is life. None of this has changed my feelings about the country. I still love India, Bollywood and Shah Rukh Khan.”
Golan, however, maintained that her book was not just about the casting couch but also about “Courage, honesty and integrity,” and that she intends to find her “dream life” in the city.