Sunday, September 14, 2014

Why attack a 'Makdee''.... and spare the snakes?

A Frazer and Haws Ganeshji. One of my all time favourite images taken at the showroom in New Delhi.
                                                                    **************

                 Why attack a ‘Makdee’… and spare the snakes?
I was really, really aghast to read the entirely unfair publicity given to a vulnerable young actress, driven to prostitution after experiencing abject failure in Bollywood, despite a promising start. And what a start it was! 11-year-old Shweta Basu Prasad won a National Film  Award for Best Child Artist in 2002, for her performance in Vishal Bharadwaj’s film, ‘Makdee’. Twelve short years later,  at age 23, the poor girl is splashed across national and regional newspapers after she was “ caught in a compromising situation” in a Hyderabad hotel.Arrested by the over-vigilant cops and packed off to a Rehabilitation Home, Shweta faces a minimum of  ten days in custody while the cops frame a charge sheet. Effectively, her life and career are both over. And I fear for her  safety. Going by the abysmal track record of how all such State run shelters and Homes function, with rampant sexual abuse, torture, starvation and worse, Shweta is likely to face a whole host of nasty problems while she is being ‘rehabilitated’ at  government expense. Meanwhile, the media will sadistically pounce on the juicy story and torment her further… till the next scandal… and the next.
Shweta’s sordid experience in showbiz is not new or unique. There are thousands of Shwetas out there, struggling to survive in a heartless industry, which is more a meat packing factory than a provider of legitimate entertainment. The real tragedy of girls like Shweta kicks in after they taste early success, and then nothing happens. Buoyed by praise and misled by avaricious agents, they start dreaming big and expecting too much. Since image is everything these days, they often end up living way beyond their means, frequently borrowing money to subsidise their jumped up lifestyles. Movie business the world over functions in exactly the same way, when it comes to women.  It works on a demand/supply principle. The supply always exceeds the demand. There are any number of alarmingly young girls waiting for a break and willing to go to any lengths to get it. Shweta had it better than most, having worked with established directors like Nagesh Kuknoor and Ram Gopal Varma.  Despite such a huge advantage, Shweta, when she was busted in the staged raid, was broke and jobless. In her brave and upfront statement, she stated she had a family to support and was lured into prostitution by an agent who set her up with a Mumbai businessman.
Why pick on a comparative non-entity like Shweta, when there are hundreds of high profile, prominent, top bracket stars indulging in exactly the same  ‘dhanda’? It’s an open secret in Bollywood as insiders snigger about the ‘rate cards’ doing the rounds. Some of the featured names would make most people roll over and die of shock! One wonders where Shweta went wrong. She blames her flop career to picking the wrong roles.A lot of actresses pick wrong roles, but not all of them become prostitutes. The problem is different. Bollywood  refuses to acknowledge the levels of poverty and desperation that drive young aspirants ( male and female) to seek other avenues to pay their bills and stay alive. Some of these strugglers take to drugs and alcohol ( a brave admission by ‘Mary Kom’ Director Omung Kumar Bhandula, that his FTII trained father died an alcoholic after failing to get roles), and that path  often leads to prostitution or…. suicide.
Shweta is a victim of a sting operation conducted by a Telugu television channel. She was easy bait. With no powerful patrons or backers, Shweta turned out to be just the thing a TRP- obsessed media organization could effortlessly exploit.But why have Shweta’s clients been shielded from media glare? Why aren’t they being named and shamed ? Why pick on Shweta?  Her story got the cops what they were looking for – attention. And the channel  got its eyeballs. Where does that leave Shweta? At the bottom of a pit… still poor… and now shunned as well. ‘Balu’, the pimp who booked her for a fee of one lakh a night (keeping 15k  as his commission) allegedly assured her she wasn’t the only actress indulging in this racket, and several other actresses also free-lanced as prostitutes in order to keep body and soul together. This was Shweta’s  third ‘assignment’ and possibly her last. At 23, her future is looking scarily dark and grim. If anything happens to this young woman , who will assume responsibility? The State? Bollywood? Society?

We need to take better care of the Shwetas we may know in our own lives. We certainly owe a desperate, hungry, young person that much.

28 comments:

Anita Jeyan Sandeep said...

The other day I read about how further interrogation of Shweta can reveal more names and that some actresses are scared already. I have also read about Bollywood and cinema in general being male dominated. Like there is no movie without a female lead, there is no prostitution without a male involved. Its just that prostitution alone, seems to be female dominated field.

Sonal Jagetia said...

So true and unfair, one side of the story is published and the flip side remains unexposed!!

Venki J said...

@Shoba De

Naive post. It is surely Shwetha at fault. Nobody forced her to get into prostitution. She should have studied well instead of getting into cinema field. Somebody stopped her getting into a college? No. And what is the matter with men who pay for sex? No man forces a prostitute for sex. It is funny to see how everybody is blaming men for her fate. Grow up Shoba ji !

SIDDHARTH TANDON said...



http://siddharthtandon92.blogspot.in/2014/09/women-you-cant-win.html

Shrishti said...

Mr. Venki J, How do you know whether she willingly jumped into prostitution, or whether she was pushed into it???
After reading your comment, i can only hope you get your facts and senses right! God help you man!

Latha said...

"Film industry, which is more a meat packing factory than a provider of legitimate entertainment." You said it. That's why I never watch films.

Durosas Pathika said...

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Rohan Sharma said...

Naive?
"She should have studied well instead of getting into cinema field", this, is naive. And repulsive. And grammatically incorrect. I don't really get the correlation that you're trying to draw between "going to college" and "The film industry". It's abrupt, and "naive", like you quote.
Her caliber of thinking is very strong and dissident. But I disagree, with the statement she made about the actress having no other options whatsoever. I even further disagree, with her judgement about other such synonymous actresses. It is rather presumptuous.

Arunav said...

my heart goes out to Shweta and your piece just echoes my sentiments on this issue. This lady deserves another chance! she truly does.

Sam K said...

Arrows came from all around to pierce a poor sparrow of tinsel town.
http://lazykay.blogspot.in/

Back Seat said...

Such a well rounded perspective. Thank you. Totally agree with the fact that this was an unfair event. And could only happen because she is powerless. No channel seems to be talking of the high profile men who were supposedly her clients.

But what is sad is at some level how we take the selling of a body so seriously when we take the prostitution of the minds of artists so lightly.

So many artists have to prostitute their minds thanks to the way the film industry works. to me that is as painful.

Suddenly when it's about the body it's such a big deal. Both kinds are a painful and unfortunate reality.

Noval Bintang said...

Hi Indian Blogger :)

Venkat Gaddam said...

Heyy Shobhaa, miss reading your posts! Please keep posting more often.
It is really sad what happens in the movie industry and how they exploit women. hopefully, this will change soon!

What did you think of the Dippy-TOI issue?

Heres what I thought: http://whencutgoddamn.blogspot.com/2014/09/what-i-think-about-dippy-toi-issue.html

And also, I'm intrigued to know what you thought of Sona's latest, Khoobsurat!

Heres my review: http://whencutgoddamn.blogspot.com/2014/09/pretty-khoob-khoobsurat-review.html

Can't wait to hear from you!

Neha Mirashi said...

This is not a problem that exists only in Bollywood or for that matter only in India. Its not even a gender specific problem.
This is usual story of survival, some make it, for are fortunate and some don't. The problem is with the unfairness of it all. As you pointed it out, why do we always hear only one side of the story?

www.myocdinchaos.blogspot.in

Kinjal Dave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ash said...

Dear Ms. De,

Im a bit on the fence (wobbly albeit) on this one. Not having all the facts makes one reluctant to comment...but I'll get a few things off my chest.

I struggle with the words "lured" into the sex racquet. Its different to the harsh reality of being "forced". There are other avenues in life. Ive have experience of seeing people from a less glamourous field, doing very unglamorous things to lead an extremely harsh but respectable life.

Like this young lady, many have a family to support. But the definition of "support" need not include luxuries or even all three basic meals.

Also, the "snakes" mentioned here are the rich and powerful clients. I agree they are also as guilty. Any reason the lady is not naming them, and taking all the rap herself? Maybe she is worried about future career consequences?

There are snakes in almost every field: Sales, Hotel Management, Modelling, Advertising...yes acting too. Ask any young lady working out there..not everyone gets lured.

I will stop here as I don't have all the facts. Needless to mention my sympathies are with the frightened young lady, and I wish her a good future, with better options and peace.

Thank you for your interesting writing..

Regards,

sitender choudhary said...

Firstly , prostitution is wrong
Secondly, It could be understood a bit if a girl is kidnapped from a remote village and been forced to enter this filth,
Thirdly, she was well educated, so she could have chosen other options of career
But she chose money over her dignity.She was so blind in making money that she forgot what is the meaning of being a girl.
Today you are supporting her a prostitute, tomorrow thousands of them would come out and they will say that they were helpless, . They can say " we are not getting any decent job so we entered here" this is not an acceptable thing at all.
She is a celebrity ,it doesn't allow her to do all things. There are other ways to live a dignified life.So, are you sup[porting Sunny Leone too and many of them? There should be inquiry on people who used her no doubt in this, but she can't be declared innocent at all.

Garima's Archive said...

The most important thing is why only the girl was defamed?The person who was paying a celeb for prostitution must be rich and known person. Don't you think the guys name should also be exposed?
And secondly as per her statement she was framed as she hasn't taken any money from any middlemen. So how can anyone just assassinate her character and not the guy's with whom she was.

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