An Instagram post by a 29-year-old woman in Chennai had a cascading effect with several women levelling allegations of sexual harassment against photographer Prashanth Ravi.
Known as Prashanth Bionic, he has over 3,73,000 followers on Instagram and has been recognised as CANON EOS Influencer. He has worked with several popular influencers and has done wedding, couples and travel shoots in India, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.
The Quint spoke to the survivor who brought the allegations to the public eye. Here's what she has to say.
'He Used To Call Me Akka'
R* (name changed to protect her identity) knew about Prashanth since 2017 as they studied in the same college. She later took up a corporate job, also enrolled for modelling classes and took up modelling as a part-time gig.
“I am not an aspiring model. This is the story of a woman calling out a man. I was a writer on Quora for over five years. There I used to talk about traveling and buying a house for my parents. (On Quora) I had over 50,000 followers and later, I got followers on Instagram too,” she told The Quint.
When R reached out to Prashanth, he addressed her as “akka” (meaning elder sister in Tamil) at first but his tone changed soon, she alleged.
"He started texting me saying, ‘You look hot.' He didn't take no for an answer. I told him that I was not interested in him. He told me to give him a chance. I thought he was just a corny person who would talk like this to everybody. Later, three influencers from my close circle told me that he used the same lines with them."Survivor
The Quint reached out to Prashanth Ravi but we have not received a response. This article will be updated once we get a reply.
‘Learn To Take a No’
A few days ago, R came across a Reddit post that triggered her to go public with the allegations.
When she shared her story on 24 October, she received a barrage of screenshots from several women and some of the “messages were sexually pronounced,” she said.
The Quint accessed screenshots shared by several women. One woman alleged that Prashanth had shared nude images of him without her consent and another alleged he had misbehaved with her in a hotel room. The Quint couldn't individually verify the claims with the respective women.
"This is a profession which most parents don't allow their daughters to opt. Despite that, we go to deserted locations trusting the photographer. This behaviour is unacceptable."Survivor
In her Instagram post, she highlighted that incidents like these show the industry in poor light.
“I can’t believe the audacity this fellow had to go around talking like this for years. You see each woman politely turning him down. Yet, he doesn’t stop. Again, I’m not here to say men (or women) cannot express their feelings or make a move. Just do it respectfully with the consent of the opposite gender. You’d know when someone’s not interested or is uncomfortable, and learn to take a NO,” her Instagram post read.
She alleged that several budding female photographers and married women too, have shared their stories of harassment with her.
Prashanth Accused Women of False Allegations, Then Deleted the 'Story'
On 25 October, Prashanth shared an Instagram story stating that the post on Reddit was a “false allegation against him.”
“And whatever certain people from different timelines in my life have come along together against me in saying I have texted them wrongly based on the above issue have put me down personally,” his story read.
This Instagram story was removed in a short while.
Later, he issued a statement of apology that said that he had "a great sense of regret and shame."
In his post, he claimed that he "never abused" his "position as a photographer or a professional to such ends."
Hailing from a modest background, I had toiled so hard to get where I am today. One can regain lost wealth or care but cannot revive the character of a person. To err is human. I promise that I will strive to be a better person. I promise to be extremely empathetic, respectful, kind, and understanding.Prashanth Ravi on Instagram
Woman Alleges Harassment by Fake Accounts
R said that she felt “infuriated” by his apology.
Singer Chinmayi Sripaada condemned his apology stating, "I am going to assume Prashanth is educated enough, old enough, and aware enough of what transpired when the MeToo movement broke out in 2019. He clearly has an A-list following and has worked with rich/influential people. All of us women constantly spoke about being aware, knowing boundaries, and understanding consent," her Instagram story read.
The Chennai woman also alleged that thousands of bot accounts started following her over the past three days. She supported her claim with screenshots of the comments which alleged that she defamed the photographer.
"Many accused me of being involved in the casting couch. What? I have not acted in movies or advertisements. Everyone who knows me knows that I am not even interested in that," she told The Quint.
The Quint spoke to an official in the state cyber crime cell who said that if a complaint is raised by the woman, they will look into the issue promptly and find out if these are indeed fake accounts. One can register complaints regarding cyber bullying by visiting https://cybercrime.gov.in/.
This isn’t about me. This is about him. If I had called him out four years ago, I would not have had to report so much (of harassment). The intensity of harassment just got worse (over the last four years). He cannot harass any woman who speaks to him.Survivor