Tanushree Dutta’s sexual harassment allegations against actor Nana Patekar have opened the floodgates of Bollywood’s own #MeToo movement. When this movement erupted in the West, it’s arrival in Bollywood was awaited. Tanushree, quite righteously, held the flag and finally brought the movement back home. What’s next though? We wanted someone from Bollywood to start the conversation about the ‘existence of sexual harassment at the hands of influential men’ in the industry. Tanushree did so by alleging something she did years back in 2008. What she is able to recollect today is exactly the same she alleged then. She spoke out then. She is speaking now. But, what is the rest of the film industry doing now? Answer: Dodging the questions because their ‘name is not Tanushree,’ posting selfies with the accused (because we use women empowerment as per our own convenience) or supporting her through social media (because at least we are showing support!).
It’s been four days since Tanushree gave her first interview to Zoom revealing that she still stands by what she alleged in 2008. She said Nana Patekar did try to take sexual advantage of her and nobody from the film’s team came out in support of her then. The first reaction from Bollywood came on September 27th from the big event of the launch of Thugs of Hindostan, where Amitabh Bachchan said, “My name is neither Tanushree nor Nana Patekar, how can I answer the question?”. When Aamir Khan was asked to comment on the matter, he also quite sheepishly mentioned he wants people to do their own investigation. It took Bollywood four days to realise that they have a strong say in the matter because it is about them, about their workplace, and about their colleagues.
Photo Courtesy: Nana Patekar (Getty Images), Tanushree Dutta (Getty Images) – Edited by Hamid Khan
Only after a popular Bollywood journalist revealed her experience from the sets of the film where Tanushree was shooting with Patekar that day, that stars spoke out. None of them still had the courage to say that they believed Tanushree because they believed ‘her’ story. They shared the journalist’s tweet thread and showed support to Tanushree. They said they believed what the journalist had to say and therefore, Tanushree is right. Basically, they played safe!
Here are the tweets made by Sonam Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Farhan Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap:
The only two people from the industry who mustered up the courage to say ‘I believe Tanushree Dutta’ were Swara Bhasker and Richa Chadha. Both the actresses didn’t depend on someone else’s version of the same story to speak out their mind on the matter. They called a spade a spade because THEY felt it’s a spade. Swara and Richa tweeted:
But, that’s all.
Tanushree saying that she encourages Bollywood voices in support of her but what’s the point when big stars are still working with the accused, rightly shines a light on one question: What is the action taken? How is Bollywood really helping Tanushree and others who have faced harassment? What is the film industry doing to make its female employees feel safe at their workplace? Using social media?
Oh, and while Bollywood is trying to support Tanushree, even in their own safe ways, filmmaker Farah Khan tried to throw a different curveball altogether. Was she even aware that something as serious as sexual harassment allegations have been made against Nana when she posted this on social media?
Note: You will also find Kriti Sanon, Pooja Hegde, and designer duo — Rimple & Harpreet Narula in the frame with the accused actor, all posing and flashing their beautiful smiles. Of course, Farah is entitled to have her own stance on the issue. She can choose to support Nana Patekar instead of Tanushree’s documented allegations. But, what made her behave in a completely ignorant manner on the issue by posting a picture which had Nana rejoicing like ‘all’s well, nobody freak out, please’?
It’s sad when people who are being looked upon by masses choose to say they don’t want to comment on issues like sexual harassment. But, it’s sadder when people not only choose to not speak on the matter but also behave indifferently as if ‘your sexual harassment story is your story, none of my story…’!
Tanushree has made it clear that she is not going to remain silent on the issue and is ready to fight it out. Nowhere in her statements has she behaved like a victim. None of her interviews show her shedding tears in an attempt to garner sympathy. Nowhere can one sense that it’s her way of relaunching herself in the Hindi film industry. In fact, she has been saying that she doesn’t want to stay here and is in the process of getting a green card in the US. If not for her intention or for her choice of not letting injustice be forgotten, she deserves to be praised for refusing to be a ‘victim’. Even from Bollywood!
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