Isha Koppikar has taken a break from films in order to concentrate on being a hotelier and a mother. Recently, in an interview, she spoke about her experiences with nepotism and casting couch in Bollywood (hints at a superstar) during her career.
Before working in Bollywood, Isha had already done a few South Indian films, where she had played the girl-next door kind of roles. It was Ran Gopal Varma who gave her the item song ‘Khallas’ in Company. The song became a huge hit and people in Bollywood started noticing her.
Talking to Pinkvilla, Isha spoke about facing rejection and replacements, casting couch and being typecast as the ‘item girl’.
“A lot of times I was about to get a role. But someone would call and their daughter or the starlet would get the film. Or if someone is with someone – whether she is his muse or girlfriend, she has got the role. So I have been hit by nepotism a few times.”
A producer had asked her to call a superstar in order to be in his good books. “So I called him. He asked me to meet him in between his dubbing and something he was doing. He asked me who I was coming with and I told him I will be coming with my driver. He said, ‘Don’t come with anybody’. I was not 15 or 16 then. I knew what was happening. So I told him, ‘I am not free tomorrow, I’ll let you know’.” When a woman says no, such people can’t take it and temporarily, you’re written off. I never ended up working with that actor,” she said.
The actress also said that she learnt self defense because a few top secretaries had touched her inappropriately.
Isha says having a family that supports you, backs you, helps tremendously, especially to deal with situations like casting couch; one gets the courage to say no. However, a lot of girls who come from outside Mumbai and are living alone unfortunately do not have that kind of support-system when they are trying to make a career in Bollywood.