Koena Mitra

Model turned actor Koena Mitra is a renowned face in Bollywood. The prolific actor has carved a niche for herself in the industry with sheer hard work and persistence, known for her item songs and movie Musafir, Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena, Apna Sapna Money Money, Heyy Babyy to name a few. The effervescent actress is also a trained dancer, basketballer, swimmer and tennis player.

In an exclusive conversation with IBTimes, Koena Mitra spills the beans on the age-old practice in Bollywood of pay parity and casting couch, the actress shares some profound insights about her journey in the movie industry.

Excerpts from the interview:

On women being safe in 2020

I don't think any extraordinary or bad happened to the woman this year. Over the years, women have been victims to all the veil practices like rape, acid attack and many other things. The real issue is few women don't communicate with people. In many parts of India, we still see so many women are locked inside the closed doors and aren't allowed to step out. Parents try to overprotect their girls. Bahar mat jao, dosto se mat milo, not only on rural areas, even in urban areas. Woman in India don't see enough world outside, that's why they fail to tackle situations.

Girls need to be outgoing and street smart, mingle with friends, ghar pe band karke faida nai hoga. They need to meet people. They should learn to face challenges; life is not perfect and beautiful always; we are tough and also vulnerable at the time. We should know how to handle ourselves but women should have enough knowledge and confidence to tackle those situations.

Sex education should be imposed and there is nothing wrong in it. Women should be able to take care of themselves and shouldn't be dependent on anybody especially men, in case they need help, India's judiciary and the law are strong enough to protect them and give them the required justice.  A woman from all start of the society should be independent, learned and should know to fight their own battles.

koena mitra

 On pay parity

The pay parity has always been there. This is a male-dominated industry. Many female actors fight for equal pay and share and I don't think they get any profit share. Many actresses are not even aware of the profit or business that are involved, or satellite kitne ka bika, distribution cost so on and so forth. Hardcore business is not even discussed. Producers don't answer such questions. Equal pay toh hai hi nai.

Yes, male actors are given a lot more privilege. They decide who will act opposite them, who will be other female actresses in the film. Owing to this discrimination, a lot of actresses have lost good projects, and so have I. This is a very very old practice and has now tuned out to be a habit in the industry.

Do you feel safe as a woman in the industry?

I feel safe as a woman in the industry. Apart from certain accidents or mishaps that can happen to anyone, the industry is a pretty safe place to be in. If someone is not willing to do a ceratin certain, they won't force you. There are certain people who offer sex, there are instances of casting couch and what I believe is wrong people offer wrong things, it's upto you to fall into the trap or not.  And at times it's better to settle for less. 

 Have you got your due in the industry?

 No, not at all, no one can ever be satisfied with whatever they have got in terms of work. If I get content and satisfied as an artist I will never be able to grow and learn more. As an actor we all keep desiring for more. And no one is ever satisfied with the roles they have got, you always want to keep working for more. And if you are satisfied you will stop working. You can never say, haan Mujhe sab milgaya hai, yeh Kabhi Hoga hi nai.

Koena Mitra

Have you ever been a victim of the casting couch?

I was very very lucky to be launched by a very very big actor Sanjay Dutt, and Sanjay Gupta, one of the biggest producer. I am very honest I never faced any casting couch. It is because of the way I carry myself in the industry.  And another reason is people think; I have an attitude problem, they think I'm snooty. I have a healthy aura. A lot of people have told me that I don't have a smiling face. I look serious and tough. This helps me avoid toxic people, and that's a good thing, it shoos away the morons.

A lot of producers and directors who have now become friends told me that I have an attitude problem and that's fine. I am quite a private person. I am not one of those goofy girls who keeps dancing around, giggling and laughing all the time with everyone, it's not wrong to be goofy but it sends out a wrong message that 'you are available'. Because of my personality, a lot of people stay away from me. Yes, I  have been bullied by a lot of people and this a common practice in the industry till date. Big actors and big superstars bully you at award functions, they pull the actors down, and call it entertainment, it's hurtful and demotivates the actor's morale.