A Year Later, Where Do #MeToo Allegations In Bollywood Stand?
Where does the ‘Me Too’ allegations and cases in Bollywood stand a year later?
The months of September and October last year were monumental in a lot of ways for the #MeToo movement in India. Or, we thought. Actor and former model Tanushree Dutta went public about the alleged harassment she faced at the hands of Nana Patekar on the sets of their 2008 film Horn Ok Pleassss, after which the entire film industry felt the domino effect. Out came a series of allegations of sexual harassment and assault against several prominent names in the Hindi film industry. These allegations shocked many, others not much, because it was supposed to be Bollywood’s worst kept secret.
Among those accused were actors Alok Nath and Nana Patekar, music director Anu Malik, and filmmakers Subhash Kapoor, Rajkumar Hirani, Sajid Khan, Vikas Bahl and Subhash Ghai.
But a year later, where do these allegations and related cases stand? Here’s a quick look.
Tanushree Dutta Calls Investigation Spotty, Vague and Biased
Ever since she spoke about Nana Patekar last year, Tanushree has been fighting her battle endlessly. She accused Nana Patekar of harassing and misbehaving with her while shooting a song on the sets of the film Horn Ok Pleassss in 2008. Based on her complaint, a case was registered against Nana Patekar, choreographer Ganesh Acharya, the film's producer Samee Siddiqui and director Rakesh Sarang.
The Mumbai Police has filed a closure report in the case stating that they didn’t find any evidence against the accused to file a chargesheet.
“We have challenged the closure report in court. We have put in a petition to reopen investigations as many of our key witnesses their statements were not recorded by police. Also, most of those whose statements were recorded, in fact, were not even present on the set when the incident happened.”Tanushree Dutta to The Quint
“So we have challenged everything and have asked for a court trial instead so we can present our evidence in front of a magistrate. We have also petitioned that the case be transferred to the Mumbai crime branch for investigation as the police investigation was spotty, vague and biased and the report contained some distortion of facts also,” Dutta said.
Sona Mohapatra Says Anu Malik Back on Indian Idol is a Slap on the Face of the Good Women & Men of India
Music director and singer Anu Malik was accused of sexual harassment following which Sony TV’s Indian Idol team reportedly decided to remove Malik from the panel of judges on the show. He has been part of the show since its inception. But a year on, the Sony TV team has reportedly decided to reinstate Anu Malik as a judge.
Singer Sona Mohapatra, who was one of the women who accused Anu Malik, told The Quint that she reached out to music director Vishal Dadlani, a co-judge on Indian Idol, who confirmed that they have shot a promo for the show with Anu Malik.
“When I heard this I was so crushed. I also told myself that I shouldn’t have to feel this way, it doesn’t have to be personal. I have to keep working and succeeding as an artiste for my voice to make an impact and for such movements for safer workspaces and society to even hold ground for long enough to make a change and not be seen as a fad that conveniently goes away. A systemic change is what we are hoping for.Sona Mohapatra told The Quint
Mohapatra says that Indian Idol is a huge platform and talked about why she thinks it could go wrong to have Anu Malik back on the judging panel. She says,“A rise in awareness about the magnitude of sexual harassment and the lopsided power structure in our industry has already begun and that’s a start. Yet, I felt literally physically crushed for three-four days. In this particular case, it is so deeply disturbing because they are getting him back on a channel and a show which is hosting the youth of the country as well as very vulnerable parents. I cannot tell you because I have been a judge on a show and I know how desperate people are to succeed, to become famous, to get their name up there.”
“To put a person like Anu Malik in a judge’s chair after he was called out by multiple women for being a sexual predator is giving a strong slap to all the good women and men of the country and is a complete disregard for ethics and humanitarian morals,” Mohapatra said.
The singer added that by getting Malik back on the panel, Sony TV has disregarded the women who spoke against him. “The message they are sending out is that the safety of our children, let alone just women, just doesn’t matter to Sony Pictures Television. The dignity of women does not matter. Their trauma and pain does not matter. Their voice clearly doesn’t matter. So many women spoke up, some minors, some ex-employees of Indian Idol and it doesn’t seem to matter to Sony TV. And it’s one thing to go on and feel despair but I am not one to despair. I believe in taking action and I bounce back every day thinking that it is a collective fight for so many of us. Change doesn’t happen overnight and we are ready for the long haul. I don’t think I am the only one who feels so strongly about it. There are many of us. That Sony TV and Indian Idol are destroying goodwill for some cheap bucks will hurt them big time in the long run. The corporates and brands that sponsor them are equally culpable and guilty of enabling and supporting a known sexual predator,” she said.
The Quint reached out to the PR team of Sony TV but got no response. The Quint also reached out to Anu Malik who initially agreed to comment on the allegations against him, but stopped responding to our messages and calls later. Also note that no formal complaint has been registered against Anu Malik.
Vinta Nanda’s Allegations Against Alok Nath
TV producer Vinta Nanda opened up about about how Alok Nath had assaulted her “brutally” in 1999. In October 2018 she said, “I have waited for this moment to come for 19 years.” But what followed was rather disappointing for Nanda. The court granted a pre-arrest anticipatory bail to Alok Nath stating that there's a possibility he's being falsely framed. The cops claimed that they questioned the witnesses from both ends but nothing concrete came out that could prove he was guilty.
Apart from Vinta Nanda, Navneet Nishan and Sandhya Mridul have also accused Alok Nath of harassment.
The Quint spoke to actor Sushant Singh, who is the current General Secretary of Cine and TV Artistes Association (CINTAA), who told us that they had expelled Alok Nath right after the allegations came up and issued a show-cause notice which he disregarded.
When Ajay Devgn, Tabu and Alok Nath starrer De De Pyaar De’s trailer dropped earlier this year, there was social media outrage over Alok Nath being cast in the film. De De Pyaar De released without a hitch, with the argument that since the film was shot and completed before the allegations against Nath came up, it deserved a fair chance.
Meanwhile, ironically, Alok Nath has also acted in a film titled Main Bhi (Me Too), in which he plays a judge who oversees a case on sexual harassment. Imran Khan, the director of Main Bhi and other films like Aadmi, Meri Adalat and Arjun Deva, has said that he’s finding it difficult to get distributors for the Alok Nath-starrer. Khan also claims that he wrapped up the film last year in July, long before the allegations against Alok Nath came up.
Subhash Kapoor Back With Aamir Khan
In February 2014, director Subhash Kapoor was arrested after actor Geetika Tyagi filed an FIR alleging that he had molested her. This was way before the #MeToo movement came to India. Last year, when ‘#MeToo made headlines, Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao decided to distance themselves from the film Mogul, which Subhash Kapoor was directing.
Subhash Kapoor then approached the Indian Film and Television Director’s Association (IFTDA) about the case against him.
“The case against Subhash Kapoor was going on since the past four-and-a-half or five years and Subhash Kapoor approached IFTDA. He said that it’s an ongoing case and I was signed (for the film) after this case was filed. He said that Aamir Khan was aware of the case when he signed him for the film. You cannot take their bread and butter from someone.”Ashoke Pandit, IFTDA’s President told The Quint
Recently, Aamir Khan announced that he will again collaborate with Subhash Kapoor for Mogul, which he is both co-producing and acting in. Some reports suggested that Aamir had approached Akshay Kumar who refused to be a part of the film and Varun Dhawan declined the offer because he was busy with other projects.
Actor Geetika Tyagi says she is surprised that Aamir Khan has gone back on his decision to not associate with Subhash Kapoor.
“I found one thing very weird after reading Aamir Khan’s statement that they didn’t know anything about this case. They also talked about giving a character certificate and they spoke to women but they never spoke to me. Is knowing my side of the story not important when you are talking about my case?”Geetika Tyagi to The Quint
On an episode of Koffee With Karan last year, Aamir Khan said he and Kiran Rao have decided to not work with people accused of sexual harassment “if there is enough reason to doubt that person”.
Allegations Against Sajid Khan
In all the #MeToo allegations that came out, filmmaker Sajid Khan’s case is one that stood out in terms of how it was dealt with. Actor Saloni Chopra and a film journalist were amongst many others who came out in public about how Khan had assaulted, misbehaved and passed lewd comments while using his authority as a filmmaker.
A source close to case told The Quint that the manner in which the IFTDA heard out both sides was “commendable”. The women went with their complaints about the director and he was called in to testify. The association banned Khan for six months and the director was also dropped from the judging panels on some TV shows. But note that there was no police complaint filed in the case.
Sajid Khan’s sister, filmmaker Farah Khan recently spoke about the allegations against her brother and said, “You cannot pick and choose that one accused is soaring success on the professional front and I can benefit from it and the other I can throw under the bus. I think that is not a good way to do it. There needs to be a due process, which is yet to come in place. You cannot just say trial by social media because it is a very dangerous phenomenon and can happen to anyone in the course of time.”
When The Quint asked a source close to the case if a six-month ban was punishment enough, they said that it’s something the body (IFTDA) must decide and that they are not in a position to say what the punishment should be.
Allegations Against Rajkumar Hirani
A woman who worked on Sanju with Rajkumar Hirani had accused him of sexually harassing her between March and September 2018. When these allegations came to light, Hirani’s name as co-producer was dropped from the credits of Sonam Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao-starrer Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga.
The Quint spoke to Ashoke Pandit (President, IFTDA) who said that the association cannot act on the alleged harassment because they haven’t received a formal complaint yet. If that had been the case, they would have formed an ICC and had both sides explain their parts, after which a decision could have been made.
According to reports, Rajkumar Hirani’s script for the next Munnabhai series is ready and he’s expected to announce the film soon. Many actors, including Ranbir Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt supported Hirani after the allegations against him came up.
“I don’t believe in those allegations against Raju. Firstly, I have worked with him in so many films that means so many years, and I don’t know why that lady is putting these allegations because it doesn’t make sense to anyone of us. And if you have some allegations then file an FIR, do something like that.”Sanjay Dutt in an interview with Rajeev Masand
Allegations Against Vikas Bahl
The director of Queen, Vikas Bahl, was accused of sexual assault by a former colleague from the now defunct production house Phantom Films. Post that, his name was dropped from the credits of Hrithik Roshan-starrer Super 30, a film he was directing. Bahl not only denied all the allegations against him, he also filed a defamation case of Rs 10 crore against both his partners, filmmakers Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap. Later, an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) within Phantom was formed to investigate the allegations against Vikas Bahl, prompted by the filmmaker himself, possibly with an intention to clear any allegations before the release of his Hrithik-starrer Super 30.
The ICC gave a clean chit to Bahl but according to a report in Huffington Post, due process and procedure of reaching out to all possible witnesses and assessing all available evidence was not followed.
Bahl was cleared off all the charges right before the release of Super 30 and his name was restored in the credits of the film.
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