Nithya Menon Says “No One Will Force You” When She Was Asked How Safe The Industry Is For Women. Privilege Much?
There are a few things that are open secrets in Bollywood, things we have lived in denial about for far too long. One such thing that we really want to change is the fact that actresses and even actors for that matter are subjected to a lot of pressure to give into sex. Some call it the “casting couch” others call it “compromising” but undeniably there was a time in the industry where the actresses would have to give in if they wanted work. It was an unwritten rule.
If you read that correctly, you will notice I have used past tense. Times are changing. Don’t get me wrong, actresses are still propositioned – but the difference is now the actresses are more vocal about it, they are openly discussing their experiences and calling people out. But it seems like some actresses like Nithya Menon might still be living in a bubble, one that they are unwilling to burst and they don’t realise how they are speaking from a position of privilege.
Nithya Menon has been in almost 40 movies. She began as a child actor in 1998 and is a prominent name in the Bollywood and South film industry. She is currently at the International Film Festival of India that is underway in Goa. She was one of the speakers at a panel along with Rashmika Mandanna and film critic Baradwaj Rangan, they were discussing their journeys.
Also Read: Vidya Balan Exposes The Dark Side Of Bollywood, Shares Her Horrifying Experience With The Casting Couch
Nithya was asked whether the film industry is safe for women. When I read the question, I assumed a well-acclaimed actress such as herself would’ve been truthful about what the scene is like for women in the industry. But nope, I was way off. Answering that question, she said, “You are safe as you allow yourself to be. No one will force you. Bad behaviour is everywhere not only in the film industry. You need to decide what you want to do how much you want or don’t want to compromise.”
Is that denial I sense or just blatant ignorance? On what grounds is she saying, “no one will force you?” I hope she knows that when a man, a director, for instance, tells an actress who is very new to the industry to sleep with him and he will give her more work, that is also a form of forcing and manipulation. That woman might not even know she has a choice! There have been instances where the woman in question is not left with an option about if and how much she wants to “compromise.” The word “forcing” and “bad behavior” has multiple meanings in this industry, so Nithya what are you trying to say?
Also Read: Surveen Chawla Opens Up About The Casting Couch. With So Many Actresses Talking About It, We Hope It’s A Deterrent
Of course, the world is full of people with “bad behaviour” but when you are questioned specifically about how safe the film fraternity is for women, you can talk about everywhere else but you’ve to be realistic and preferably climb off your high horse. Maybe Nithya’s stars were aligned correctly, and she was never subjected to this kind of “bad behavior” from anyone she has ever worked with. But there is no way she doesn’t know almost all the actresses have been asked to “compromise” on more than one occasion. So, why isn’t she acknowledging that? What is with the diplomacy?
The only way we can get the tides to turn is if everyone talks about things like this together. This is not the time to be in denial or to project diplomacy!