Voices

An actress with a disability has to face many more hurdles

An image that is divided into two sections. The first is a portfolio photograph of Virali Modi smiling and leaning her head to the right. The second is a quote on a pink and white background stating 'Is my right to be given a fair shot denied because I cannot walk? Where's the equality in that?'

‘You’ll have to kiss me,’ said my friend, the casting director. He sounded as if he had a smirk on his face. ‘But I can’t. You’re my friend, it’ll be too awkward,’ I replied.

‘You’ll have to kiss me,’ said my friend, the casting director. He sounded as if he had a smirk on his face.

‘But I can’t. You’re my friend, it’ll be too awkward,’ I replied. I’m not against gestures of physical affection on screen, but I didn’t want to kiss him because I wanted our friendship to remain unaffected.

‘Well, they want to cast me alongside you as the main lead. What should I do?’, he asked. It was as if he was pleading for me to cave in.

‘If you’re sure it won’t bring any awkwardness to our friendship, fine. I don’t mind,’ I said, after much thought. After all, it was the first time a director had wanted to cast me in a lead role! I couldn’t let that opportunity go. If it meant kissing my friend on screen, so be it.

‘Okay, meet me at this address, there are some things to go over,’ he said nonchalantly. Nothing seemed to faze him.

On the day that I was supposed to go, I wasn’t able to make it because of other engagements. The next day, my friend suddenly messaged me to say that they had found someone else to play the role. I tried to call him, but his phone was off. He wasn’t logging in to Facebook, nor was he responding to my emails.

I was confused. I kept asking myself where I went wrong, but I could never find the answer. It couldn’t be that I had initially refused to kiss him, because I had agreed later on.

From his reaction, I concluded that he wanted to take advantage of me, and that there was no film. He was only playing me. It was horrible!

After a couple of weeks I tried calling him but his phone was still switched off. I went into investigative mode. I checked the address he sent me on Google Maps and found out that it was in an isolated area. I thanked my lucky stars that I was busy that day and couldn’t make it. If anyone from the industry wanted to meet me, it wouldn’t be in a place like that unless their intentions were wrong.

From his reaction, I concluded that he wanted to take advantage of me, and that there was no film. He was only playing me. It was horrible! I always had a bad feeling about this guy, but I had never listened to my gut. Now I understood how right my gut had been.

What really hurt me was that he played with my emotions despite knowing about my struggle in the industry. I’ve never been treated like an equal in Bollywood. It hurt me that just to get in my pants he faked a film, told me the directors had selected me, got me to agree to wear raunchy clothing, and even made me agree to kiss him.

After I agreed to all of that, he probably thought it would be easy for him to get his way with me and asked me to come to an isolated place. I was merely treated like an object that couldn’t get away if he tried to do something. When I didn’t show up, I was kicked out of the ‘film’ without being given any explanations.

The experience has left me wondering: will I ever make it in Bollywood? Am I constantly denied opportunities just because I can’t walk? Where’s the equality in that?

Featured image credit: Upasana Agarwal

About the author

Virali Modi

Virali Modi is a Quora writer, blogger, motivational speaker, aspiring actress, 1st Runner Up of Ms. Wheel Chair India 2014 and a disability rights advocate. Oh, and she forgot to mention that she is disabled, as if that really matters.

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