Businessman Raj Kundra’s arrest in connection with making and distributing pornographic films has revived the debate of exploitation of young and vulnerable starlets. Actor Shruti Gera reveals she was approached by casting directors in 2018 for a web series produced by Kundra, offers she refused.
“I don’t remember exactly which casting director mentioned it to me but at least a few did. One mentioned they could introduce me to Raj Kundra, another said this guy intends to start a production house and he is coming in the web space in a big way. I said no to it immediately. But I am more grateful that I kept myself safe. We all thought that he is some big shot but turns out he is a person who does porn films,” she shares.
Gera also feels that one shouldn’t blame new actors and models, and question them why they do not realise that someone is not right.
“Imagine someone like me who has done several hundreds of TV commercials with the biggest brands out there and a casting guy has the audacity to approach someone like me. When the news came out, I felt like someone punched in the stomach that how dare someone think that I would be open to do such a thing,” she adds.
The actor, who starred in the film Toss: A Flip of Destiny (2009), took a sabbatical from acting around 2018 and founded a skincare company.
“I realised that a lot goes on here in the industry. Young female actors are drugged, their compromising videos are shot and through that people blackmail them and pimp them out. It is very common. Even young male actors face this. They do a lot of things, they honey trap and they make you vulnerable… I have walked out of projects when I realised that the makers had ill intentions. But it is always not that easy. They also put cameras in your room and shoot something and then blackmail you with it and force an actor to do something that they don’t want to,” she elaborates.
Gera has mostly done ad commercials and they were all corporate money that funded them, “as opposed to mafia money in Bollywood.”
Calling out the dubious casting process in Bollywood, she explains that while auditions are the right way to cast ideally, those happen mostly for ads or character roles in films.
“The main leads are hardly ever auditioned, unless it’s an all new cast in a film which is rare. Even for the big banner films the main cast is always decided and they hunt just for fill up roles. Things are changing slowly now but films are known to be ventured into via socializing, meetings and contacts, making it a grey area and models/actors are susceptible to exploitation be it male or females,” she concludes.