Bhubaneswar: Actress Sharmistha today dropped a bombshell accusing three leading lights of the Odia entertainment industry of attempting to do a 'casting couch' on her. Apart from sending the three named scurrying for cover, her allegation has sent the cinema and television industry in the state into a tizzy.
Sharmistha alleged that event manager Bapi Jena and director Subrat Nayak and Tapas Sargharia asked her to 'compromise' if she wanted to get a major role in a serial. To prove her point, Sharmistha showed the history of WhatsApp and Facebook chats between her and the three persons she named to the media.
Though she claimed Jena and Nayak asked her to compromise, the actress was unsure about the WhatsApp account in the name of Sargharia. She said, “I have neither met Tapas Sargharia nor am I acquainted with his voice. Therefore, I could not tell whether he was the same person or not. The person with the WhatsApp ID in the name of Sargharia told me; 'People have to compromise in the industry. You must be knowing about that'. In reply, I said no I had no idea about such things.”
Sharmistha, however, had no such doubts about the other two. “Jena approached me directly and offered to make me the lead actress in a serial but with the rider that I had to sleep with him,” she added.
About Nayak, Sharmistha said, “I have already worked with him (Nayak). But still he asked me for my photos repeatedly. After giving him my photos, he told me he was not convinced. But he told me he was impressed with some backless photos that I had sent in the lot. After that, I did not reply to him. He too did not tell me anything after that.”
Refuting the charges levelled by Sharmistha, Sargharia said, “I am a responsible person as well as a director. I am a family person and have a social standing. Someone might have sent the message in my name by creating a fake account. I have lodged a police complaint and they are investigating the matter.”
Emphasising his innocence, Jena said, “I can guarantee I have never talked about casting couch or had any indecent talk with her (Sharmistha). She has not done any work with me in the recent past. I don’t know why fingers are being pointed towards me. It’s completely false.”
Expressing shock over the allegations, Nayak said, “As per my character in a serial, I asked her for her photos. She stopped providing me pictures after giving some photos. I wrote to her saying I will inform her later about future plans. I have had no other intention. Why should I ask for photos implying otherwise as she has already worked with me for five months?
Allegations of 'casting couch' is nothing new in Odisha's entertainment industry. But this is the first time someone has actually named people. True or false, there is little doubt that Sharmistha's allegations have drawn attention to the dark underbelly of the industry.