Much has been written about the casting couch. I remember my days at Island magazine (from the Magna Group for those who came in late), almost 12 years ago, when we tried to “trap” some “seedy” producers and directors, by sending in some decoys. This was much before News Television and if I am mistaken there weren’t any news TV channels around then. When I did that story, I was like a knight on a mission, all fully charged. A mission to expose the exploiters and protect the exploited. A mission to change the world of Bollywood. For me then, the exploiters – meaning the directors and producers who lured nubile young things to their casting rooms and dingy offices in Oshiwara, Four Bungalows – MAHADA and at Adarsh Nagar were the culprits who should have been hanged.

Twelve years later, while I don’t condone such acts, my views have drastically changed. Today, I wouldn’t do a one-sided casting couch story. I am of the opinion that the girls are equally to blame. Many girls will walk into a dingy office at Adarsh Nagar, with all their artificially augmented booty falling out and openly say that the old man behind the desk can take a look at all her goodies after he parts with a signing amount and/or signs a contract with her.

After this book is published or if this blog becomes a hit, I am sure many PYTs and not so PYTs are gonna accuse me of the same – of offering them “plum roles” and big assignments in return for special favours. You dear reader gotta be warned that it was all in good faith. To find out which girl would go to what extend to get a “big film” or a “big modeling assignment”, I had to play the villain myself. I had to masquerade as a big producer or a director in the making. Now, now, I do aspire to be a big producer some day myself and would love to direct some great movies, a la Spielberg, but what I was doing the last two years was part of an elaborately planned sting operation and was research for my book.

Dear reader, you will be surprised. Some girls who come from really good families and have a great education were also “willing to sleep with me” just to bag a big film project. I was surprised and shocked that educated, well-bred, beauty contest winners with mirror-cracking looks were willing to “have coffee” with me. And I don’t think I am such a great looker myself, neither did I drive a Merc, nor did my last name sound like an Ambani or Tata, or Chopra or Bhandarkar. I was stunned myself, when out of every ten girls I contacted with offers of films or modeling assignments, about six of them agreed to my ‘terms’.

There were enough girls in Mumbai who would let me “do anything to them” for a movie or for that matter for even a music video and some of them were willing to drop all their clothes for a few thousand rupees. And these were not professional call girls. Some of them were as young as 17 and most of them were in their twenties. There was this girl from Delhi, who came with her mother for an ‘audition’ and both mother and daughter were willing to ‘take good care of me’.

Then there was this lady in her fifties (who claimed that she was only 35) and herself a small time “C” grade actress who came with her 16-year-old daughter. The mother is now a bar dancer and also organizes “private parties” where out-of-work bar girls (after the ban came into force) dance semi naked in small halls for about Rs 5000 each night. She offered me both – herself and her daughter for a hold your breath threesome. She claimed her daughter was a virgin and I should be careful while breaking her. I was shocked, but I had to continue with my act. We met at Café Coffee Day at Lokhandwala and then she dropped me off in her Maruti Van. I am specifying all these details (which are not a figment of my imagination, but are facts meant to corroborate my story). All she wanted was a leading role in a good music video for her daughter.

Then there was this model and Bhojpuri ‘actress’ who let me audition her in her car – a nice red Honda City or Civic (I don’t exactly remember). She actually was willing to let me touch her all over to ensure that she didn’t have any artificial stuff. All this in her car on a deserted road behind near Lokhandwala. She insisted that I ‘touch and feel’ her assets to make sure that she had “genuine maal”. “How many girls today have such genuine assets, she asked me after that, insisting that I could have everything, if I paid her a signing amount of Rs. 50,000/- . She immediately gave me a bank account no. in Dubai where she wanted the money transferred. Since I was putting on an act, I pretended that I was being financed by some rich Sheikhs in the Gulf and all my cash was abroad. She even had an account in London, she told me.

It’s true that some girls chastised me, some of them fired the hell out of me. I couldn’t tell them that it was research for a book for then the cat would have been out of the bag and since it’s a very small world, all of them would have known that Flynn Remedios was doing an investigative book on Item Girls.

Now that my research is complete and my book is almost out, I would like to apologize to all those nice girls who were offended by my “indecent proposals” – there is this really sweet and cute singer and stage performer who lives near Versova whom I asked if she would do a wardrobe malfunction – like get her top fall off – for a hefty price. She flatly refused and stopped talking to me for a month. I had to profusely apologize, but I guess things were never the same between us after that incident. If you read this dear, please remember that it was only research for a book.

Now coming to the point! The producers and directors are NOT to blame. There are many, many girls who will throw themselves at even the sleaziest, pot-bellied, half drunk, almost bankrupt, balding man merely to get sometimes even a small role. I am sure – as it was in my case – that after the producers and directors get such “indecent proposals” from the girls, they begin to enjoy all the fun and then start ‘demanding’ the same from all the others. And sometimes they get caught.