Through the Lens: Life and Politics in Asia | Society | South Asia

What’s It Like to Be a Woman in Bollywood?

Shreya Narayan shares her experience as a Bollywood actress and what she see would like to see change.

Is the “casting couch” a reality in the Hindi film industry? That’s a question actress Shreya Narayan, the great-grand-niece of India’s first president, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, says she is often asked. The term refers to an aspiring actress trading sexual favors to producers or directors in return for entry into a film.

It does happen, says Narayan, but the Mumbai-based film industry, nicknamed Bollywood and one of the largest centers of film production in the world, is a safe place for women to work. Bollywood, though, is as patriarchal as any other workplace in India, adds the actor, who is also a writer, and has recently finished writing her debut novel.

In this informal, intimate video, the 31-year-old actress, who has worked in several top films, including Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster, Rockstar, and Tanu Weds Manu, shares her experience as a Bollywood actress and what she see would like to see change in the industry.