#MeToo: Movement rocks India; bigwigs from media, entertainment industry exposed

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GR News Desk

New Delhi: The #MeToo movement has finally struck shore in India and the revelations have created furore and anger in the hearts and minds of the general public. Numerous women have raised allegations of sexual misconduct against people in power. Big names from media and entertainment industry have tumbled down in the wake of revelations. The movement has also knocked on the doors of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet.

Nana Patekar

The campaign set foot in the country after Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta, in an interview to Zoom, raised her voice against her mistreatment on the sets of a movie about 10 years ago. Accusing senior actor Nana Patekar, Tanushree claimed that during the filming of a sequence for ‘Horn Ok Pleasss’ Patekar “against my will and consent started grabbing me.”

Responding to the accusations Patekar maintained that it was ‘a lie’ and has refused to issue any further statement. Dutt has now filed a written complaint with the Mumbai Police alleging that on March 26, 2008, Patekar, “against my will and consent started grabbing me by the arms and pushing me around on the pretext of teaching me how to dance even though he is not the choreographer. He was touching indecently and unnecessarily in front of everybody but nobody objected and all were complicit in this behaviour by being silent spectators”.

Police has booked Patekar, choreographer Ganesh Acharya, director Rakesh Sarang, producer Samee Siddiqui on charges of molestation and obscenity under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Tanmay Bhat, Gursimran Khamba

The All India Bakchod (AIB), a comedy group, famously known for the controversial roast, came under fire after allegations of sexual misconduct were charged by several former employees. The group severed its ties with founding member Tanmay Bhat who remained quite after a female employee raised her voice against molestation by comedian Utsav Chakraborty. The AIB announced that for failing to take action against the comedian, founding member and CEO Tanmay Bhat will be “stepping away” as his role in the controversy could not be “overlooked”. A 22-year-old woman had accused Tanmay of sexual harassment. She wrote on Twitter, “Tanmay Bhat texts me whenever he’s h***y, when I don’t want to entertain he says he’s sorry I acted like a f****oi. But eventually does it again.”

https://twitter.com/AllIndiaBakchod/status/1049242042310828034

Meanwhile, Gursimran Khamba, another founding member was sent on leave after allegations surfaced against him of harassing another woman. In a separate statement, Khamba denied “any violation of consent”.  “We have been closely monitoring the sequence of events on social media around the allegations against AIB and also against our co-founder and CEO, Tanmay Bhat. We cannot overlook Tanmay’s role and in light of this, he will be stepping away from his association with AIB until further notice,” AIB said in a statement.

Vikas Bahl

A female employee with the Phantom Films accused director Vikash Bahl of sexually harassing her during promotions for the film ‘Bombay Velvet’ in Goa. She accused that Bahl in an inebriated state molested her in a hotel room. Adding to the accusations, Kangana Ranaut who worked with Bahl in Queen alleged that the director made her uncomfortable at several occasions. “(I) Totally believe her, even though Vikas was married back in 2014 when we were filming Queen, he bragged about having casual sex with a new partner every other day. I don’t judge people and their marriages but you can tell when addiction becomes a sickness,” Kangana said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Bahl has sent legal notices to filmmakers Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane accusing them of maligning his image by giving statements on social media. He has demanded an “unconditional apology and to withdraw messages from social media”.

(Credit: Rupali Neelkanth/Representational)

Alok Nath

TV writer and director Vinta Nanda alleged that television and cine actor Alok Nath had sexually assaulted her for almost 19 years. In a heartwrenching Facebook post, Vinta wrote, “As the evening flowed, my drinks were mixed and I began to feel strange. Then at around 2 am I left his house. Nobody followed me or offered to drop me home, which was what was rather unusual. All I knew at the time was that I had to get home. I could sense it wouldn’t be right for me to stay there any longer. I started to walk home on the empty streets although the distance to my own house was long. Midway I was accosted by this man who was driving his own car and he asked me to sit in it and said he would drop me home. I trusted him and sat in his car. I have faint memory after that. I can remember more liquor being poured into my mouth and I remember being violated endlessly. When I woke up the next afternoon, I was in pain. I hadn’t just been raped, I was taken to my own house and had been brutalised.”

After her revelation, more such accusations followed, in an interview with Firstpost, actor Deepika Amin expressed, “This is an open secret in the industry. When actors sit around and chat, I’ve heard male actors say that women on set were upset with Alok Nath because he would knock on their doors at night. I wish some of these male actors would come forward.”

Along with these celebrities accusations of sexual misconduct has been levelled against Rajat Kapoor, Kailash Kher, Sajid Khan among others. Farah Khan took to Twitter and talked about allegations against Sajid and said, “This is a heartbreaking time for my family.We have to work through some very difficult issues. If my brother has behaved in this manner he has a lot to atone for.I don’t in any way endorse this behavior and Stand in solidarity with any woman who has been hurt.”

MJ Akbar

In the world of politics, the first such accusation has been raised against MJ Akbar, a journalist turned politician, who is Minister of State in Ministry of External Affairs. While Akbar has not yet issued any statement, seven woman journalists have come out with their accounts of how Akbar harassed them at various points in time.  Priya Ramani, formerly of India Today, The Indian Express and Mint came out first against the MoS and described an experience she had with the editor who twice her age at the time. The editor, she wrote, called her for a job interview at a “plush south Mumbai hotel where you always stayed”. She added that “When I got to the lobby, I called you on the house phone. Come up, you said.”

https://twitter.com/priyaramani/status/1049279608263245824

Pressure is mounting on the government to take action against the minister, as the opposition vies for his resignation. Congress president Rahul Gandhi said that the truth needs to be told loud and clear in order to bring about change. In a Tweet, Gandhi said, “It’s about time everyone learns to treat women with respect and dignity. I’m glad the space for those who don’t, is closing. The truth needs to be told loud and clear in order to bring about change.’

According to The Indian Express, the government said that he will be given a chance to defend himself and present his side of the story. Meanwhile, the BJP is still silent on the series of accusations.

While many have apologised for their behaviour, more names are likely to come out in coming days as women take a stand.