Ever since the Harvey Weinstein controversy rattled Hollywood, back home, a debate started whether the stars in our film industry are vocal enough about such incidents or not. While Bollywood actresses like Richa Chadha, Kalki Koechlin, Priyanka Chopra and Vidya Balan acknowledged the existence of casting couch, Irrfan Khan said that it is not just restricted to women. Men, too, have been victims. And that, he is one of them.
At the song launch of his next film — Qarib Qarib Single, the actor took a moment to talk about sexual harassment in Bollywood and his own experiences. The actor said that while more women have to go through such ordeals, men, too are told that they need to sleep with people to get work.
Sharing his experience, Khan said,
It has happened with me a lot of times. It won’t be good to take names but a lot of times it has been hinted to me and sometimes I have been told clearly that if I compromise I’ll get the job. It becomes slightly weird because when people you know and respect a lot, give you such offers, that’s the sad part.
Talking about how both genders are affected by the unapologetic norm of seeking sexual favours in lieu of work, Irrfan said,
A person might propose ‘If you sleep with me I’ll give you work’, but you have the power to say no. Such indications are given to both men and women, but women face it more. Yes, if it is happening without consent or forcibly, then it’s extremely saddening.
The actor who faced backlash for showing a man getting married to her daughter’s friend in his movie Doob also talked about where the problem actually lies. He said,
To sexually exploit someone is a disease in itself. It reflects the dynamics of our society – that it’s sexually suppressed. As far as sexual exploitation goes, the one who has more power will exploit the other gender.
Irrfan’s views on the relationship between people with major age gap are also important. Talking about the same, he said,
Sexuality shouldn’t be hidden behind the façade of religion or judged by age. It’s not a crime to be in a relationship with an older man or a younger woman. Love is already complicated in today’s times, with arranged marriages and joint families that gave a couple plenty of buffers, making way for singular families, and the social media giving both the sexes equal opportunities to mingle. Let’s not complicate relationships now with all these diktats.
Hearing a man’s perspective on sexual harassment is always interesting. Isn’t it?