From time to time many people have opened up about unspoken things that go inside Bollywood. Be it casting couch or nepotism or sexism, a lot has already been spoken! And, recently, an Australian actor named Harry Key has opened up about his experience while working in several Bollywood movies. He has worked in many Hindi movies like ‘We Are Family’, ‘Dum Maaro Dum’, ‘Friendship’, ‘Dostana’ among others.
While answering the question if the casting couch exists in the industry, he replied:
“Casting couch is real, particularly for girls. Girls would really, really struggle with this, apparently even the famous Indian ones, but certainly the white ones. Continually get taken out to dinner by a ‘producer’ who wanted to talk about a role for a film; and the dinner would be in the Marriot or somewhere where he’d already taken a room upstairs. As far as I could tell the only real way around it for girls was to make do with small roles or get hitched with someone quite famous. For guys, I didn’t deal with much except when I did any modelling. I mean, except for people getting handsy on-set, which was kinda common (I was touched up two, maybe three times). But in modelling it’s explicit as fuck.
Story time: I was on set for a film, and a really famous fashion designer was there because he was friends with the director or someone. He’s there, just checking things out and drinking chai and stuff. Anyway, he starts talking to me about whether I want to do modelling and I said “I suck at it, but a ramp show does seem like a lot of fun”, so he takes my name and connects with me on FB. That night, he starts sending some pretty crazy explicit messages, basically saying “If you don’t fuck me/suck me off, you ain’t getting any work” (just with him, not threatening to ruin my career I should add). I mentioned it to an Iranian guy the next day on another set for another thing, he was a model, and he unloaded. Said his agent was about to send him back to Iran because he wouldn’t ‘play ball’ and as a result wasn’t getting any ramp work. Said it was pretty much the understood thing that if you wanted to get ramp shows and serious modelling work, you pretty much had to bend over for it; then recounted about seven or eight really dodgy incidents which were kinda rapey as fuck.”
While answering what he loves the most about Bollywood, he mentioned:
“What I loved, and still love, are the people. Indian people are so warm, so welcoming, so friendly and willing to go out of their way to help you. So much that it gets annoying sometimes. People would invite me into their homes, make me chai, ask me excessively personal questions, demand I stayed for dinner. It was great. The people come first in my list of favourites. Food comes second.”
People did ask him about his favourite Bollywood actor and he said:
“Priyanka Chopra. Hands down, heart-stoppingly gorgeous. Even in person. I worked with her in Dostana. Apart from that, Irrfan Khan (I was in Life of Pi and Slumdog Millionaire) was really, really nice. John Abraham was too. Mammooty was also a really nice guy.”
While answering what are his favourite Bollywood movies, he said:
“I quite liked Dev D, and anything I did. Actually, I also liked Dostana.”
While spilling some real beans about ‘over-the-top’ Bollywood movies, and how serious do the actors and directors take their movies:
“Yeah they take it deadly seriously. But they know they’re over-the-top. You’ve got to recognise that a serious segment of their audience is living in abject poverty, they’re ‘gaonwale’ or village people. They don’t want their reality reflected the way we in the west do, because their reality is dull. The term they often use to describe it was “escapism” and I think that nails it pretty much. They want it to be over the top and silly – they get out of their seats and shout insults when the villain appears on-screen. Also, go back to our films of the 60’s and 70’s and you’ll see a similar vibe. Over-the-top colours, bizarre costumes, obviously-fake sets, laborious unrealistic dialogues – that’s the era Bollywood is in now. Well, was – it’d already started changing by 2010 when I left, and gritty(er) films were becoming more common.”