- Bhat will step away "from his association with AIB until further notice"
- Blamed for not acting on harassment charges against colleague
- Utsav Chakraborty was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment
Star comic Tanmay Bhat has quit AIB, the comedy group he co-founded, in the tide of MeToo allegations against Indian celebrities on social media. Tanmay Bhat will "step away from his association with AIB", the group said in a statement today. Tanmay Bhat is facing accusations that he did not act on complaints against Utsav Chakraborty, a YouTuber and ex-AIB member who was called out on social media last week.
Gursimran Khamba, another founder-member facing allegations of sex harassment on social media, will also go on leave, said the group.
With both of its senior partners exiting, AIB said, "Truthfully we do not know what this means for the future of AIB or whether there is one".
Tanmay Bhat, one of the headliners of the comedy collective, would not be involved in the day to day functioning of AIB or in any other manner, said the group.
"We have been closely monitoring the sequence of events on social media around the allegations against AIB and also against our co-founder and CEO, Tanmay Bhat. We cannot overlook Tanmay's role..." AIB said.
The group had in an earlier admitted that Tanmay Bhat knew about the allegations against Utsav and confronted him "personally" but failed to take action. "...everything that came during our conversations all feel like excuses in hindsight and fact of the matter is that we messed up."
Neither Tanmay Bhat nor AIB cut Utsav off and kept collaborating with him. "I should've ended ties then, and I didn't, and it is my fault. I'm truly sorry. I should've acted stronger," Bhat had said on Friday.
On Gursimran Khamba, AIB said the allegations were, for now, related to a private matter. "However, as an organisation, we believe it would be prudent to place Gursimran Khamba on temporary leave of absence until we have more clarity," said AIB.
The group said it is consulting experts to ensure AIB's work culture is sensitive, inclusive, respectful and fair. "We understand that disconcert of any kind adversely affects the work culture and creates an unsafe space for our employees. Nobody should have to work in an environment like that..."
For AIB, it is a difficult reality after it shot to fame two years ago with its no-holds-barred roast of actors Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor.