It's been a chaotic week for the Telugu film industry, ever since news spread about a National Award winning actress being caught in an alleged "high profile prostitution racket". What took the whole discussion on another tangent was the actress's alleged revelation that she resorted to it as a last option to support her family. Online forums and social media are now abuzz with debates about circumstances that force actresses to go astray.While this is not the first such incident that has come to light, the larger issue here is the pressure and scrutiny that celebrities go through and how, some of them buckle under such circumstances.
The pressure to succeed
It's no secret that success is all that counts in showbiz; and for actresses, in particular, the pressure to achieve fame and glory is all the more intense. "Every actress faces this constant pressure to be on top of her game — whether you are a newbie or a seasoned actress. People's behavior around you changes on the basis of the current film you are doing and how well your previous film performed at the box-office.However, I don't see any reason for an actress to sell her soul or body for money to reach the top.What's sadder is the perception that an actress would be ready to do 'anything' to survive," says an actress, on the conditions of anonymity.
Several other actresses and filmmakers echo her thoughts. "Unfortunately, the shelf life of an actress is shorter since everything depends on her beauty and youth. Hence, the stakes are high and not to forget, the pay-off is equally high, if you succeed," filmmaker Nandini Reddy says.
The lifestyle of a diva
While instant fame and money are considered a big step forward in any celebrity's career, the pressure mounts to maintain the lifestyle. Actress Charmme avers that it all boils down to an individual's choice, since no one forces anything upon anyone in the industry. "Everyone wants to make it big. But it depends on how far you are willing to go to grab something. You need a reality check to know where you stand and whether you want to take a huge leap out of your comfort zone or be content with what you have," she says.
Whether it's about making a style statement at public events or being attached to high-profile projects, almost every actress is under constant scrutiny. "One of the several ways to keep you grounded is to have a good support system and I'm lucky to have my parents and friends, who take care of me. I've learnt a great deal about the industry from my personal experiences and as time goes by, it'll either break you or make you stronger," Charmee adds.
The lure of quick money
Sex scandals and prostitution rackets in showbiz aren't something new, but an incident like this shatters all illusions about showbiz. While the actress in the middle of the latest controversy has reportedly stated that she had to take the wrong step to support her family, industry sources say that young actresses from poor families are easy prey. "A lot of times, celebs don't have proper information about how to approach or move forward in their career and they are at the mercy of people they meet. Some actresses are misled and made to believe that prostitution is the only way to earn quick money in the industry. This is not true.You really can't judge people because the entire picture about what forced them to take up such a step is never clear. It could be out of desperation, desire to succeed or even to make ends meet," Nandini Reddy explains.
Need of a good support system
There's little doubt that showbiz is a tough place to survive. It's not just the talent that keeps pouring in to the industry every other day that adds to the competition, but the dynamic nature of the industry where nothing is permanent, adds to the pressure. Actress and producer, Lakshmi Manchu argues that people have to look beyond instant fame and money to make a career. "A lot of actors come here without training. You should understand where you come from and what you want to be. A true artiste can never be poor and will not take a drastic step," she says.
"Assessing one's ability and having a solid backup option to diversify, if a career in films doesn't unfold as planned, is the way to go," says Nandini Reddy, adding, "There has to be a timebound strategy; give yourself two or three years and see where you stand. In the end, you have to understand that the bandwidth of success is very small and more importantly, you need to have a good support system."