Never one to shy away from calling a spade a shovel, Rakhi Sawant now has a rather startling opinion on the ongoing debate on casting couch and sexual harassment of strugglers in the film industry.
Rakhi admits to being a victim.
"When I was a struggler, yes I did face the casting couch. But it wasn't as if every producer or director I approached was guilty. As in every walk of life, there is sexual corruption in the film industry also. As far as I was concerned, this was just in the beginning. But I had talent and I didn't have to give in. I learnt to say no. And I used my talent as an artiste to make my way through life. I suggest all strugglers to have patience and not surrender to the temptation of shortcuts," she said.
Rakhi completely supports Saroj Khan in the opinion that there is no coercion involved when sexual favours are exchanged.
"Nobody rapes anyone in this film industry. It's all consensual and voluntary. In this, I fully support Sarojji. At least she has spoken her mind and let the world know the truth. People in Bollywood don't speak out the truth about the casting couch although it is happening right here in front of their eyes. They feel they are making their way up why should they bother with what's happening around them? I really admire Sarojji for letting the world know the reality that they have to face every day. Sarojji has seen what goes here. I totally agree with her."
The shocker from Rakhi is the revelation on how rampant sexual favours are in the film industry.
"Young girls are willing to make any compromise to get going in their career. Aaj kal to ladkiyan kehti hain, Kuch bhi kar lo, mujhe kaam de do'. Iss mein producer ki kya ghalti hai? (Girls, these days, are ready to do anything to get work. Why to blame producers for this?) Sarojji is not wrong. A lot of girls come in the film industry to become heroines but become something else... you understand what I am saying? Call it destiny or what you will."
Rakhi's advice to young aspirants?
"Have faith in your talent. Have patience. Don't give in to shortcuts. I've seen so many girls throw themselves at producers. This is not good. I don't want to take any names. Lekin aisa hota hai (But this happens). It shouldn't be so. Salman Khan and Priyanka Chopra are superstars because of their hard work and not for any other reason. The ones who take the shortcut end up on a different track altogether. Don't do this to yourself. And don't blame producers for taking what you have to offer."
Rakhi wants to stress that it's not just girls who are casualties of sexual compromise, but boys too are equally prone to compromise in the entertainment and fashion industry.
"I keep telling the strugglers not to give in. Lekin kya karenge, Mumbai hai hi itni expensive city (But what to do, Mumbai, as a city, is very expensive). I don't want to denigrate Bollywood. But because Sarojji has raised her voice I am supporting her."