Beware of wannabes, say Bollywood directors

Mumbai, Jan 23 (Calcutta Tube) Beware of aspirants and strugglers and never invite them at home, suggest directors who are shocked after newcomer Yuvraaj Parashar, who features in Onir Dhar’s ‘Dunno Y… Na Jaane Kyun’, accused the director of molesting him.

The first golden rule that Onir broke was to invite the actor to his house. No director ever does that. Whether it is Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Karan Johar or Rakesh Roshan, they all have a strict office-only policy about meeting newcomers.

Madhur Bhandarkar, who went through a bitter experience, has now installed cameras in his office to record all meetings. So too Ram Gopal Varma. Now Onir has also decided to get office space outside his home. A wise decision though one that any filmmaker would have advised him to follow much before the ugly accusation.

Here’s looking at what directors have to say:

Rituparno Ghosh: For a filmmaker from the queer section, it’s doubly tricky. Earlier, we just had heterosexual directors being accused of taking advantage of breathless starlets. Now we have male aspirants too screaming about exploitation. Earlier on, I used to go through this ordeal all the time. Newcomers would meet me and then accuse me of trying to take advantage of them when I wouldn’t give them a role. I soon became immune to these attacks and luckily they were never made in the public domain. It was very silly of Onir to invite this boy home. I never invite any of my work-place colleagues home unless I know them for years.

Rajkumar Gupta: One can’t stop meeting actors. That is not the solution. But it is really scary when a director is accused like this. I guess one has to very cautious. Meet them in your office or a coffee shop.

Jagmohan Mundra: I always have a male and female assistant during the meeting.

Manish Gupta: My meetings are only with people who come through a reference. I don’t entertain all and sundry. I get calls from sultry sirens, struggling actresses and dancers. They even mail their photos in bikinis and try to entice me into a meeting. But I don’t unless they come with a reference. Marna hai kya!’

Siddharth Malhotra: I’ve been a producer and creative director on TV for 10 years and now filmmaker too. The way I see it, the only way to ensure such a thing doesn’t happen is to meet them in your office or public place. Inviting a stranger home is courting trouble. Always make sure you’ve someone around when you meet a wannabe actor.

Sudipto Chattopadhyay: There should be no point of any personal contact. The encounter should be strictly official and in public domain either at the office or coffee shops. Wannabe sorts like Yuvraaj will stop at nothing for cheap publicity.

Vipul Shah: Avoid meeting newcomers alone. Or have cameras installed in your office.

Anant Mahadevan: I once received a call from a girl who said her father was willing to invest anything if she could be launched in a film. I asked her to put her father’s money in a bank. A filmmaker should be intelligent enough to tell the genuine actors from the frauds. Otherwise they’re taking a big risk. The cases of Madhur Bhandarkar and Onir prove that filmmakers are soft targets.

Hansal Mehta: We need to recognise and utilise the services of professional casting directors and agencies.

Abhishek Kapoor: Not much can be done I guess. Maybe discreet cameras to record such encounters.

Nagesh Kukunoor: Damn, that’s shocking. Poor Onir, he’s such a gentle soul. This will only isolate us more and create a suspicious sad and lonely world.

Suneel Darshan: It’s indeed shameful that an aspiring actor has resorted to such cheap tactics to gain mileage. Such behaviour must be condemned by the media and by film folk alike.

Rahul Dholakia: At a time when headlines are more important than news, it’s impossible to protect oneself from such incidents. One just has to be extremely professional at almost every stage. But in our profession communication, interaction and emotional attachments are sometimes inevitable. Where do we draw the line? It’s tough.

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