- She alleged that he made unwelcome, aggressive advances
- Nana Patekar denies any of this happened
- Journalist Janice Sequeira has said that it did
Actor Nana Patekar's response to the allegations of harassment made by Tanushree Dutta has been to say he's considering legal action, following that up with a statement from his lawyer saying a legal notice would be sent to the actress today demanding an apology. On Twitter, though, damning testimonies by two women corroborate much of what Ms Dutta said happened on a film set 10 years ago - one, a journalist who was on set the day the alleged harassment took place, has posted detailed tweets; the other, an assistant director on the film in question, backed the journalist up.
Tanushree Dutta alleges that Nana Patekar made unwelcome and aggressive advances while filming a song for 2008 film Horn 'Ok' Pleassss; when she called him out and walked off set to her vanity can, Mr Patekar allegedly called on his political connections to have thugs surround her van and then attack her car, with Ms Dutta's parents in it.
Nana Patekar denies any of this happened. Journalist Janice Sequeira has said that it did, backed up by Shyni Shetty, then working as an assistant director on her first film. "Everything in this thread happened exactly the way it's written," Ms Shetty tweeted yesterday referring to Ms Sequeira's posts, "I was proud of what you did then, Tanushree Dutta, and I'm proud of you today."
Ms Sequeira's tweets reveal that she had been on set that day and while she didn't witness Mr Patekar's alleged inappropriate behaviour itself, she saw what happened after. When she arrived on set, shooting had been stalled; she writes of watching Ms Dutta storm off set into her van, which was then surrounded by goons banging on the door. She also saw Ms Dutta's car being attacked.
Most chilling is the official reason given for the disruption in shooting - Ms Dutta was blamed for being "difficult, uncooperative."
The other person who was on set that day and has spoken is choreographer Ganesh Acharya, who couldn't decide whether "something happened" or "it didn't happen." He said both to News18: "Something did happen that day because the shooting was also stalled for over three hours. There was some sort of misunderstanding. But I can confirm that nothing this sort of happened. It's a wrong statement that Nana ji called members of some political party on set. It never happened."
See the tweets that say otherwise below:
I was a cub reporter in 2008, assigned by AajTak and Headlines Today to cover the BTS of a song being shot for this film. When I arrived, I was told shooting had been stalled because the actress, #TanushreeDutta was "being difficult". #NanaPatekar— Janice Sequeira (@janiceseq85) September 26, 2018
I could see Tanushree on set, visibly upset about something. #NanaPatekar, choreographer Ganesh Acharya and a man (who I later found was the producer) were having a conversation, while 50-odd dancers sat waiting. The official version was that the "heroine was not cooperating".— Janice Sequeira (@janiceseq85) September 26, 2018
A while later, shooting resumed. Tanushree resumed work, and a couple shots later, #NanaPatekar joined her. Not long after that, Tanushree walked off set. Shooting halted again. She locked herself in her vanity van, refusing to come out.— Janice Sequeira (@janiceseq85) September 26, 2018
Out of nowhere, goons turned up and began banging against the vanity van door. I was told the producers had called them to set. Cops arrived. Amidst this chaos, I got hold of #NanaPatekar. All he said was, "Meri beti jaisi hai", which didn't really make any sense at that point.— Janice Sequeira (@janiceseq85) September 26, 2018
Eventually, Tanushree's parents arrived to pick her up. Her car was attacked, the windshield broken. I tried to get in touch with Tanushree to get her version of events. Around midnight, she asked me to come to her place. In tears, she narrated what really happened. #NanaPatekar— Janice Sequeira (@janiceseq85) September 26, 2018
Tanushree told me that after three days of rehearsals, Ganesh Acharya changed every step on the day of shoot. #NanaPatekar was never meant to be part of the choreography, but coerced the producers into getting him to shake a leg with Dutta.— Janice Sequeira (@janiceseq85) September 26, 2018
Later, she said, a lewd dance step was introduced on the insistence of #NanaPatekar, so he could touch her inappropriately. That's where alarm bells rang, and Tanushree decided to walk off set. What she didn't expect was the aggression shown by the producers after.— Janice Sequeira (@janiceseq85) September 26, 2018
The chat I had with Dutta hours after the incident was identical to the account she's come out with now. How could a person's version remain the same a decade later if there wasn't any truth to it?— Janice Sequeira (@janiceseq85) September 26, 2018
[Our chat was off-the-record, even though she went on to give interviews later.]
For anyone who's either going to be ignoring or downplaying Dutta's account as a desperate call for attention and question why she didn't speak out earlier - she did. Interviews by Dutta were followed by a press conference by #NanaPatekar where she was branded "unprofessional".— Janice Sequeira (@janiceseq85) September 26, 2018
This was a decade ago. It could have possibly been the first instance of a Bollywood actress calling out sexual predators, and her voice was silenced by more powerful men who continued to have flourishing careers. Now she's found her voice again. Shouldn't we listen? #NanaPatekar— Janice Sequeira (@janiceseq85) September 26, 2018
It seems that even Bollywood is listening. Twinkle Khanna, whose husband Akshay Kumar has been named by Tanushree Dutta as complicit by choosing to make films with Nana Patekar despite allegedly knowing about the allegations of harassment against him, tweeted today describing Ms Dutta as 'brave' and urging that Janice Sequeira's tweets be read. Priyanka Chopra, Sonam Kapoor, Farhan Akhtar, Parineeti Chopra, Richa Chadha and Swara Bhasker have added their voices to a small but growing chorus of support for Ms Dutta.
Unsurprisingly, Bollywood's biggest male stars have feigned ignorance. Amitabh Bachchan, speaking at the launch of the trailer of Thugs Of Hindostan yesterday, said, "My name is neither Tanushree nor Nana Patekar so how can I answer your question," when asked by journalists to comment. Salman Khan said at an event, "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."
Aamir Khan offered a diplomatic response only marginally improved from those of his fellow superstars. Also speaking at the Thugs Of Hindostan event, he 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." Akshay Kumar has not spoken.
And yet, not all men. Tanushree Dutta also revealed that when the director of her 2005 film Chocolate - Vivek Agnihotri, whom she didn't actually name - asked her to "take her clothes off and dance" off camera in a scene, co-stars Irrfan Khan and Suniel Shetty spoke instantly in her defence.
Get the latest election news, live updates and election schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on ndtv.com/elections. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates from each of the 543 parliamentary seats for the 2019 Indian general elections.