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How safe are actresses in Sandalwood?

By: By: Shekhar H Hooli
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The recent Nagathihalli Chandrashekhar"s slapgate issue has led to serious debate on the security of actresses in Kannada film industry. There are instances where actresses are being exploited on the film sets and in public. To name such actresses, Ramya stands first in the row and then comes a host of actresses like Andrita Ray, Haripriya, Sada, Bhavana, Ragini Dwivedi and Navya Nair.

Now the questions that pop up in everyone"s mind are how safe are actresses in Sandalwood? Are they getting their due respect? Is film industry misusing them? As far as the security is concerned, there is no security for these actresses in the industry as well as in the public. There are incidents where they faced sexual abuse and sometimes even manhandled/attacked in public.

Latest incident of Nagathihalli Chandrashekar is best example for physical abuse/harassment. Nagathihalli Mestru, who is wellknown for his decency, slapped her, that too in foreign land. There are many incidents like this that happened in Kannada film indusrty. Upcoming Kannada babe Haripriya has also faced unwanted male attention. The director of her recent film expected her to be beside him all the time. He often told her to sit next to him in front of him during breaks and between shots.

Another actress Navya Nair was recently attacked by a stranger in a public function. Recently, she was attending the opening of a jewelry shop in Mangalore. Crazy fans had gathered in front of the shop and a mischievous guy pinched her thigh while she was entering the shop. The incident left her so shocked and disgusted that she could not see the miscreant.

When we talk about respect, Ramya strikes our mind immediately. She has been insulted on the film sets by actors like Sudeep and Darshan. Earlier this year, senior jouno Ganesh Kasaragod along with his fellow reporters boycotted the Jothegaara press meet allegedly claiming that she insulted him by coming late to the event. Harsha allegedly forced her to apologise to him on the sets of Just Maath Maathalli. Nobody including director Sudeep and producer came to her support.

Recently, actress Ragini Dwivedi was dumped from Challenging star Darshan"s upcoming movie. Before its shooting, she appeared in a dance song in the movie Gokula, which Darshan claimed as an item number. He forced the film bosses to throw her out of the project stating that he would not want to act with an item girl.

Many filmmakers are exploiting actresses while paying their remuneration and propositions. We are still not out of Ramya's remuneration drama. Prakash Raj agreed to pay her usual salary Rs. 32 lakh for his debut venture Naanu Nanna Kanasu. Soon after the launch he changed his tone. He ditched her when she refused to reduce her remuneration.

If this is condition with local actresses, it is even worse for non-Kannada actresses, who are from other regions. Tamil actress Sada claims that she was not given her payment for a Kannada film. She was even not paid for her flight tickets and hotel. They even did not provide her transport and she had to walk back half the way to her hotel at midnight after pack-up.

Most of the Kannada films will not have space for actresses to exhibit their talents. Many a times they are roped in as glam dolls to attract the crazy fans. Film bosses want them to expose their body. Actress Bhavana had one such tough experience on the sets of Gaalipata. She had made it very clear to the filmmaker at the beginning that she would not wear revealing costumes. But during a song shoot, she was asked to put on revealing outfit. In spite of her refusal, the director forced her to wear it.

There are even complaints about asking for more dates. Recently there was a report about a director asking more dates from actress Navya Nair. She had given enough number of dates to him, but he could not complete the shooting. He asked for a few more dates. When she did not give, he refused to pay her dues.

This kind of incidents do not happen often in other film industry. So the Kannada film industry as a whole should seriously look into the problems of the actors and work for their welfare. Are the people in Sandalwood listening?

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