- Whether this has happened, that is for people to investigate it: Aamir
- "I don't know anything about this case," said Shakti Kapoor
- "I'm not aware of this, my dear," said Salman Khan
Two separate reactions today to Tanushree Dutta's allegations of harassment and intimidation against Nana Patekar reminded us just how divided the film industry is currently. One half, as represented by Ayushmann Khurrana today, is urging that her story, which dates from 10 years ago, should be given a fair hearing; the other half, shamefully spoken for this morning by Shakti Kapoor, is wishing the controversy well away. The film fraternity have been left shaken and stirred beyond compare - this is, after all, the very first time that an alleged sexual predator has been named in an industry popularly believed to thrive on the exchange of sexual favours for roles - and celebrities are picking a side, some of them involuntarily. Here's a list of what they have said - but first, a refresher of just what Ms Dutta's accusations involve.
In 2008, Tanushree Dutta was cast as the female lead in Horn 'OK' Pleassss opposite Nana Patekar. Trouble started when Mr Patekar allegedly hijacked a song shoot, inserting himself into the sequence and allegedly demanding that dance moves that would allow him to inappropriately touch Ms Dutta be introduced. When Ms Dutta objected and left the set, Mr Patekar allegedly used his political connections to have thugs attack not just her vanity van but also the car in which Ms Dutta's parents had arrived to pick her up - footage of this alleged attack went viral some days ago. Tanushree Dutta's story has been backed on Twitter by two women who were on set the day the alleged harassment took place. She complained to a film body 10 years ago but was swiftly silenced.
Nana Patekar has denied he ever harassed Tanushree Dutta and claims to have sent her a legal notice that she says she hasn't yet received. Maneka Gandhi, the minister for Women and Child Development, has said that "harassment will not be tolerated."
As the Tanushree Dutta vs Nana Patekar case continues to snowball into one of Bollywood's biggest controversies, here's a look at who said what:
Farhan Akhtar was one of the first male stars - in fact one of the first stars, male or female - to have supported Ms Dutta after she renewed her decade-old accusations over a week ago: "Her courage should be admired, not her intention questioned," he tweeted sharing journalist Janice Sequeira's account, one of the two women who have independently corroborated Tanushree Dutta's version of events. Farhan's tweet was shared in turn by Priyanka Chopra with the hashtag #BelieveSurvivors.
This thread is very telling. @janiceseq85 was there at the time of the incident being debated today. Even when #TanushreeDutta had career concerns to keep quiet 10 years ago she did not & her story hasn't changed now. Her courage should be admired, not her intention questioned. https://t.co/Ola3MNdmtS— Farhan Akhtar (@FarOutAkhtar) September 27, 2018
Twinkle Khanna, an important voice given that her husband Akshay Kumar continues to film Housefull 4 with Nana Patekar, also cited Ms Sequeira's account and tweeted: "Please read this thread before judging or shaming Tanushree Dutta. A working environment without harassment and intimidation is a fundamental right and by speaking up this brave woman helps pave the way towards that very goal for all of us!"
Please read this thread before judging or shaming #TanushreeDutta a working environment without harassment and intimidation is a fundamental right and by speaking up this brave woman helps pave the way towards that very goal for all of us! https://t.co/f8Nj9YWRvE— Twinkle Khanna (@mrsfunnybones) September 28, 2018
Janice Sequeira's tweets have also been invoked by actress Sonam Kapoor, whose father Anil Kapoor has worked in films like Welcome with Nana Patekar, and filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, among others. Actresses Swara Bhasker and Richa Chadha were among the earliest industry members to tweet for Tanushree Dutta.
I believe #TanushreeDatta and @janiceseq85 recollection of the account. Janice is my friend, and she is anything but an exaggerator or a liar. And it's upto us to stand together. https://t.co/sF3mS5o1P8— Sonam K Ahuja (@sonamakapoor) September 28, 2018
If my previous tweet sounds vague let me clarify it. This should stop the questioning of intention of Tanushree Datta because there is a witness account of what happened and @janiceseq85 is as credible as the come .— Anurag Kashyap (@anuragkashyap72) September 28, 2018
It hurts to be #TanushreeDutta rn. To be alone, questioned. No woman wants publicity that opens the floodgates of trolling and insensitivity.What happened to her on set was intimidation.Her only fault was she didn't back down-takes a special courage to be #TanushreeDutta.— TheRichaChadha (@RichaChadha) September 27, 2018
Ayushmann Khurrana and Freida Pinto just added their voices to the swelling chorus of support for Ms Dutta. Both stressed the importance of not using the lapse of time to excuse allegedly terrible behaviour. "People were trolling Tanushree Dutta, I think they should be ashamed of themselves because she has all the rights to complain. There is no time limit to complain if something wrong has happened. Both parties should be given a chance to clarify themselves," said Ayushmann.
Today, I interrupt my feed for a bit from all the fashion week poses to stand by what I truly Believe. I Believe Tanushree Dutta! I don't need to know her personally, neither have been present on that horrendous day she got bullied, abused both sexually and psychologically, intimidated and shut down inorder to corroborate her story. However, I do know what Truth, Hurt and Abuse sounds like. The same way millions of people in the world know that Dr. Christine Blasey- Ford is NOT a Liar or an attention seeking, tantrum throwing overgrown child. I add my voice to the other voices coming out in support of Tanushree's bravery because God knows this is not going to be easy for you, Tanushree. But what you have done is monumental and important and it has to shake the very core of a nation and an ideology that for too long has gotten away with heinous crimes against women and where the ugliness of misogyny has dominated the rights and suppressed any voice that has dared to speak up. Also, even if someone speaks up ( and in Tanushree's case- speaks up AGAIN) 10 years later, it doesn't dilute or nullify a factual, verified, double verified truth. Her story is not a carton of milk that expires after a few days, ready to be discarded. So trolls : please do what you do best but it is not going to change the Truth. India - Stand Up, Speak Up. Don't look to just your superstars to speak up. Be your own role models and follow the voice of your conscience. Follow the truth and stand by a woman's right to be her own wind keeper. You may just end up setting an example for many others who probably need your grit and courage to speak up. I SUPPORT TANUSHREE DUTTA.
Raveena Tandon tweeted about workplace harassment:
What defines harassment in a workplace?The fact that many industry wives/girlfriends are silent observers or instigators, when actor husbands destroy the actresses careers after the chase and flirtation is over,have them replaced with other potential targets?— Raveena Tandon (@TandonRaveena) September 29, 2018
Kajol, who belongs to a film family and has spent over 25 years in Bollywood, told NDTV that Ms Dutta's distressing account is "the reality". "What she speaks about is definitely the reality and I wouldn't say it's restricted to our industry. I think it's pretty much a concern all over, which ever field we talk about." She also stressed that men are also vulnerable to sexual harassment," said Kajol, adding however, that it's never happened to her.
Speaking at the Jagran Film Festival on Sunday, Varun Dhawan told news agency IANS that the raging controversy highlights the importance workplace respect for women: "I have been busy with Sui Dhaaga, so I haven't really heard the whole story, but I think what's most important at a work place is respect - whether for a woman, man or a child. We want to make our industry a safe place and everyone deserves equal respect. Also if someone is openly talking about the issue, we should hear them out. It takes great courage to talk about it and I applaud that courage."
In a lengthy Facebook post, actress Renuka Sahane defended Tanushree Dutta saying: "Is the work place meant for terrorising people or about working in a healthy atmosphere?" She also wrote that Nana Patekar is infamous for his short temper.
At the trailer launch of Thugs Of Hindostan, Amitabh Bachchan dodged a question on the controversy in his customary style: "Neither my name is Tanushree nor Nana Patekar. So, how can I answer your question?" It's worth remembering that Mr Bachchan spoke at length about consent while promoting his film PINK some years ago.
Salman Khan claimed ignorance while speaking at a sports event in Mumbai. "I'm not aware of this, my dear. Let me know and understand what is happening... If we see what is going on, I am not aware of what you are talking about," he told a female reporter.
Aamir Khan, who joined Big B on stage at the trailer launch of Thugs Of Hindostan, said: "Without knowing the veracity of something, it's not right for me to comment on it. But whenever something like this does happen, it's a sad thing. Whether this has happened, that is for people to investigate it." Aamir gets clubbed with Mr Bachchan's refusal and Salman's obliviousness because he is, after all, Aamir - the only Bollywood superstar to have condemned without qualification Salman's rape comments while promoting Sultan.
Cine And TV Artistes Association or CINTAA, the film body that Tanushree Dutta complained to 10 years ago, offered a lame apology for having ignored her then. Sorry we didn't do anything then and sorry we can't do anything now, said their statement: "We feel that the decision taken in the Joint Dispute Settlement Committee of CINTAA and IFTPC (then known as AMPTPP) in July 2008 was not appropriate, as the chief grievance of sexual harassment wasn't even addressed... Highly regrettable and no apologies can suffice, hence we must resolve today to never allow such lapses to occur again. CINTAA stands strongly for the dignity and self-respect of its members. Sexual harassment is a serious criminal offence; unfortunately CINTAA's Constitution bars us from taking up any case which is more than three years old."
THE JUST PLAIN UGLY
Shakti Kapoor, 66, should probably have refused comment like Amitabh Bachchan instead of mocking the controversy at a recent event: "I don't know anything about this case. This was 10 years back, I was a kid back then." Mr Kapoor, it should be said, is accused of sexual misconduct himself. In 2005, he was the subject of an alleged sting operation and was caught on camera offering an aspiring actress work in exchange of sexual favours. Mr Kapoor claims the video was doctored.
The youth wing of the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena or MNS - the political outfit allegedly involved in attacking Tanushree Dutta's van and car - has threated the makers of reality show Bigg Boss if Ms Dutta were to be featured in the current season, news agency ANI reports. Bigg Boss, currently on air in its 12th season, is hosted on the weekends by Salman Khan.
Perhaps ugliest of all - the silence of Housefull 4 actor Akshay Kumar and a post shared by filmmaker Farah Khan days after Ms Dutta renewed her allegations which shows a picture of a smiling Nana Patekar taking off for a shoot of the film with, among others, actresses Kriti Sanon and Pooja Hegde. Exactly as if nothing at all had happened.
Tanushree Dutta, who moved to the US after effectively being run out of Bollywood, says she made the decision to speak again in light of the #MeToo movement. Ms Dutta has named Akshay Kumar and Rajinikanth as having opted to work with Nana Patekar despite allegedly knowing about his conduct. She has also accused three men working on Horn OK Pleassss - choreographer Ganesh Acharya, director Rakesh Sarang and producer Sami Siddique - as having ganged up with Mr Patekar against her. Ms Dutta was replaced in the film by actress Rimi Sen when she quit. The song during which Ms Dutta was allegedly harassed was eventually performed by Rakhi Sawant.
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