HYDERABAD: After the allegations of casting couch, which almost snowballed into a movement with a number of junior artistes coming out of shell and narrating their bitter experiences, political support too has started pouring in.
Telangana Jana Samithi founder and TJAC chairman M Kodandaram, BC Welfare Association founder and TDP MLA R Krishnaiah, and Osmania University Joint Action Committee (OUJAC) declared their support for them on Monday. The student leaders also offered to help them file cases against exploiters.
Kodandaram said the fight against sexual and economic exploitation should continue till an institutional mechanism came into place. "Big producers and directors, while addressing the issues of junior artistes, should also respect constitutional rights," he said. The artistes had earlier said that there were a number of middlemen who, after seeking sexual favours and helping them get roles, pay them very little. That also needed to be ended, he said.
Krishnaiah said the Telugu film industry was influential and shaped the lives of many people over the years. But what was happening behind the screen saddened him, he said. "I will raise the matter in the Assembly and discuss it with cinematography minister Talasani Srinivas Yadav. When producers and leading actors make crores of rupees, it shouldn't matter them if they spend some money on the welfare of junior artistes who are the backbone of the industry," he said.
The intense debate on the prevalence of casting couch and sexual exploitation in the industry began after Sri Reddy, an anchor-turned-actress alleged about a month ago that female artistes were sexually exploited and staged a semi-nude protest in front of the Movie Artistes Association's office at Filmnagar here a few days ago. Taking cue from her and mustering courage, 15 junior artistes came out on Sunday to narrate their traumatic experiences. And, more joined the protest on Monday.
On Sunday, when several artistes expressed their anguish, one of them made adverse comments on a popular actor's personal life. On Monday, she said it was an emotional outburst and apologised.
The demands of junior artistes include putting an end to 'casting couch', removal of coordinators, pay hike and direct payment to artistes, basic amenities like food, water and toilets during outdoor shootings, 15 days of work in a month and hiring of artistes and technicians from the Telugu land for 90 pc of the roles.