Take Off Your Clothes & Dance: Vivek Agnihotri Had Told Tanushree
Trigger Warning: The following article contains details about sexual assault and violence. The details may be traumatic for survivors. Reader discretion is advised.
After speaking about how the #MeToo moment struck Bollywood several years ago, Tanushree Dutta has gone ahead and named her alleged harasser. In an interview with Zoom TV, the actor spoke about the incident which happened in 2008 on the sets of the film Horn 'Ok' Pleassss. Tanushree accused Nana Patekar of wanting to touch her inappropriately and having insisted on shooting an intimate song sequence in the film, even though it was not mentioned in her contract.
Tanushree has also spoken about an incident, in an interview with DNA, where Vivek Agnihotri had allegedly passed a lewd comment on set, but actor Irrfan Khan shut him down.
Irrfan reportedly told Agnihotri, “‘I don't need her to take off her coat and dance for me to give facial expressions’. This was Irrfan Khan. I really appreciated that he actually spoke up like that because it was his close-up shot.” Suneil Shetty, who was also on the set at the time, scolded the director for making the offensive statement, said Tanushree to DNA.
Tanushree Dutta in an interview with Zoom TV, gave a detailed account of the alleged incident with Nana Patekar in 2008.
I want to take names - actor Nana Patekar, producer Sami Siddiqui, director Rakesh Sarang and choreographer Ganesh Acharya. When Nana Patekar misbehaved with me, he said out loud that he would do an intimate step with me as well in the song, which wasn’t mentioned in my contract. It was supposed to be a solo sequence of mine. I would feel very uncomfortable when he would come next to me and try to put his arm around me. He’d grab me and push me around and say, ‘You stand here, you stand there’. Whereas, he shouldn’t have been on the set. And he told the choreographer to stand aside and said, ‘I’ll teach her how to dance’. I didn’t know how to deal with this. This had never happened with me before in Bollywood.Tanushree Dutta
She also said that when she voiced her concerns, no one on set paid heed. Added to that, not one person from the film fraternity condemned Nana Patekar’s actions, said Tanushree.
“Everyone has gossiped about this but have never spoken out. People with this kind of character speak like this against the kind of character that I have because they say she does glamorous roles so must be glamorous and all. On the back, they are so dirty. When you are in the industry you hear so many stories about these actors. But these things never surface because they are PR packaged very well. They will give some money to some poor farmers. How much they do and how much they don’t no one knows. But all this is just for show,” she added.
Tanushree said she also had to deal with people who were shaming her for speaking out in 2008. Besides, being subjected to political intimidation.
“Post the incident on the sets of Horn ‘OK’ Pleassss, Nana Patekar called up this political party who has a reputation of vandalism and causing damages on the sets. And the producers called up the media to gain publicity from the whole situation. On one side we had the media and on the other side we had the political party workers. They vandalised my car completely. So, I got off my vanity van and headed towards our vehicle. They had my car vandalised, which is also first degree assault by a mob,” said Tanushree in the interview.
“And when this incident was happening, someone went and told the producers that people are vandalising my car. Instead of stopping them or helping us, the producers had the guards shut the gate so we wouldn’t be able to leave the premises. The gate was opened only when the police intervened. If the police had come even 5 minutes late, I shudder to think what could’ve happened to me or my parents who were accompanying me in the car,” she elaborated.
"This is the culture of our country. The people who should be ashamed are not ashamed of their actions. Instead, people tried to thwart my freedom of speech when I spoke up against him," she asked.
“The thing is that our country has become so hypocritical, and people constantly ask why #MeToo movement is not happening in India, it won’t happen unless and until you’ll acknowledge what happened with me in 2008.”
“I got some 30-40 film offers after the controversy, but I was suffering from such major fear that I would not even want to go on a film set. Because when you go through such experience you think everybody is like that. You refuse to believe that I have worked with good people also,” she told News18.
“Till the time I’m given justice, no movement can start over here. I will keep bringing up this issue every time I’m here because I want to expose the hypocrisy of Bollywood that on one hand you are speaking about women empowerment, but everybody had a stoic silence on what happened with me and they have maintained it even today. In fact, they are not only maintaining the stoic silence but they are also working with the perpetrators,” she concluded.
Speaking on her memory of casting couch, she stumbled upon a conversation where a casting director chose lead actresses based on those who would provide sexual favours. The words were, “Deti hai kya.” She further said about the director saying “Aagar deti nahi hai to isko milegi nahi.”
She said, “This is the attitude in Bollywood and all the film industries that are working in the country is because deti nahi ho toh film nahi milegi.”
In a previous interview with News18, Tanushree spoke about how the Bollywood film fraternity did not stand up for her.
“The entire industry saw what happened but there was not one word of condemnation from anybody. Every single person in this country remembers my incident and this was something on national TV for three days but even today there’s a stoic silence on that. So, my question is, ‘Who is going to believe these hypocrites?’ These are the people who stand up and raise their voice against women empowerment,” she said.
When the incident made headlines in 2008, Nana Patekar had categorically refuted the claims.
After Tanushree refused to shoot the item song with Nana in 2008, the producers were quick to replace the actor with Rakhi Sawant.