A new uprising has taken over India in the last month or so. Women across different sections of the society are coming forward and speaking about the atrocities that were committed against them over a period of time. Termed as the #MeToo movement, it is a momentum against sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Hollywood had, some years back, been taken by storm when skeletons from the closet started tumbling out. Known faces, personalities and celebrities were defamed during social media trials. The harsh truth of men, using and abusing women, suddenly became a stark reality, even in developed nations. The global #MeToo campaign completes one year in October 2018.
India, till then, was quiet. Simmering and waiting for the boiling point to arrive. But after Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta took on fellow Bollywoodian Nana Patekar, all boundaries were broken. Unexpected faces were tarnished after their hideous truths started coming to the forefront.
What it brought forward was the malicious world of lies, power, influence and insanity. From Bollywood to journalism to corporate, the #MeToo movement now seems like a creep that grows in every winding alley and corner of India.
Sexual harassment is unacceptable. We had earlier reported prominent #MeToo cases that had been spoken about. Here are some of the latest accounts, that have shaken the very base of women empowerment, respect and independence, that we otherwise speak of.
Tanushree Dutta & Nana Patekar
The starting point of the entire #MeToo movement, Tanushree Dutta brought a 10-year-old incident to the forefront and all hell broke loose. She alleged harassment on the sets of a movie, Horn Ok Pleassss, by fellow actor, Nana Patekar. She even named Ganesh Acharya, the producer for not acting on her complaint.
There is a legal tussle that is underway and though Nana Patekar has declined the allegations, the truth is yet to unfold.
The next big case to hit the headlines, this left everyone shocked. A woman working at Phantom Films alleged that Vikas Bahl molested her while they were in Goa. Even though she had complained to one of the partners of Phantom Films, Anurag Kashyap, no action was taken.
A lot has brewed from then on. Anurag Kashyap has come forward and apologised for his laid-back behaviour at that time. Phantom Films has been disbanded and even actress Kangna Ranaut, who was directed by Behl in the award-winning movie ‘Queen’, has supported the victim.
The ‘sanskari’ veteran of tinsel town and the man who supposedly laid the ‘Buniyaad’ for the stoic family patriarch in most of his films and TV serials, this allegation shook the very foundation of Bollywood. Termed as open secrets, the cases have only been tumbling out, without any signs of stopping. Well known writer-producer, Vinta Nanda has accused Alok Nath of sexually assaulting her almost twenty years back during the shoot of the serial ‘Tara’.
She has been supported by other actresses like Navneet Nishan and Sandhya Mridul who have come forward and narrated their own experiences of harassment at the hands of Alok Nath.
Meanwhile the veteran actor has filed a civil suit in the court against writer-director Vinta Nanda in connection with her rape accusations against him and has sought Re 1 as damages for allegedly defaming him.
His wife, Ashu, has also recorded her statement before a magistrate in connection with her complaint against Nanda and sought that defamation proceedings be initiated against the writer-director.
Minister of State for external affairs, M J Akbar
The first politician to be dragged into the #MeToo movement, this has indeed been an opening of the pandora’s box. Heinous, nerve wrecking and appalling recollects from various women have shaken the world of journalism and politics alike.
Revered as a journalist, a minister of repute and an author to multiple books, MJ Akbar is a known face. However, the sexual harassment accusations levied by Ghazala Wahab, the current executive editor of FORCE magazine, have only triggered trouble for him.
As of going to print, there were almost 11 cases of harassment that have come to the forefront.
All these are during his stint as a senior journalist and editor in chief with Asian Age. A victim has even gone on record to say that in the inner circles, Asian age was often known as Akbar’s harem.
The MOS has rubbished these allegations and has refused to step down from his chair. He has filed a criminal defamation complaint against Ms Ramani, who was the first one to come forward and accuse him. The matter is under investigation.
In a distressing revelation, model-actor Saloni Chopra, came out wit her story that has left everyone disgusted. She recollected months of alleged sexual harassment and abuse at the hands of famous filmmaker Sajid Khan.
According to her, he would call her at odd hours, ask inappropriate questions and even tried to make her touch his private parts on the pretext of telling her that she was not sexy enough to arouse him. She has alleged extreme emotional and mental torture as he would constantly demean her.
Apart from Saloni, two other women, a journalist and another actor, have come forward with allegations of the same kind.
Journalist Karishma Upadhyay said that during an interview in the early 2000s, Sajid flashed in front of her and forcefully kissed her. Actor Rachel White has said that when she went to meet him for a role in the film Humshakals, he asked her to strip.
Interestingly, his sibling, director-choreographer, Farah Khan, has come forward and tweeted that if her brother is indeed guilty of such behaviour, he has a lot to atone for. She also expressed solidarity with the victims.
The Indian Film & Television Directors’ Association has issued a notice to director Sajid Khan for a reply.
Well known filmmaker Subhash Ghai, is the latest entrant to be named under the #MeToo movement. On account of anonymity, a woman has come forward and shared her story wherein she was drugged and raped by him. Her story was shared through screenshot by Mahima Kukreja, one of the women who has been playing a pivotal role in sharing survivors’ stories.
The woman has alleged that Ghai forcefully kissed her during a scripting session and on another occasion, he allegedly spiked her drink, took her to a hotel in Lonavla and raped her.
The director has denied the allegation and threatened to sue the woman.
Media veteran Vinod Dua has been named in the latest case of sexual harassment and stalking.
Filmmaker, Nishtha Jain, has alleged that the journalist harassed her during a job interview that she met him for. As a fresh graduate, she was greeted with lewd sexual jokes and humiliation later on.
Later, even though she joined another company, he would stalk her, even slobbering her once in his car and making life miserable for her.
Vinod Dua’s daughter, stand up comedian and TV personality, Mallika Dua, has come forward and mentioned that she stands in solidarity with the victim and the #Metoo movement. Mallika also said that it was not HER responsibility or shame or burden and that it is her father’s battle, in which she will stand by him and rather not fight for him.
Mr. Dua has denied the allegations.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) CEO, Rahul Johr,i has been accused of sexual assault by author, Harnidh Kaur, in the latest case of the #MeToo movement in cricket.
Johri, who was the Executive Vice-President and General Manager (South Asia) for Discovery Network Asia Pacific, before joining as BCCI CEO in 2016, has been accused of taking advantage of the survivor by offering a job opportunity.
The survivor levelled allegations against Johri saying he had taken her to his place where he said the final part of the interview would take place. While she was given the impression that his wife would be home, on reaching she realised otherwise. At the house, he assaulted her.
The Committee of Administrators of the BCCI have asked Rahul Johri to submit his explanation within a week over the sexual harassment allegations made against him.
India’s #MeToo movement has given women the confidence to speak about experiences that have been edged in their memory for years, that gnawed at their mental confidence every single day and numbed them because of the lack of empathy, care and an ear to hear their voices.
Today, times seem to have changed. What is important for this movement to be a success is the way it is handled from here on. The government needs to set up a fast track committee to handle such issues. Bollywood and related associations need to formulate unbiased cells where complaints can be lodged. A system to track the progress should be initiated and a rigorous punishment system needs to be incorporated.
Only when the powerful influencers are scared of the consequences and the negative publicity they get for their acts, will these instances be stubbed.