With the #MeToo movement well under way in the Western world, especially the U.S., it is only natural that it would spread to other parts of the world.
(News Credit : Entertainment @Indiatimes)
Thanks to some outstandingly brave women who came forward, Hollywood directors and actors such as Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey were exposed to be some of the prime culprits of sexual harassment against female actors – both established and new. Then how can the Hindi film industry, also known as Bollywood be far behind? India has a very patriarchal society based on so many outdated rules, and the transition to the modern era, while it may appear successful in big cities, is not really so, as model/actress Tanushree Dutta brought up.
Apparently, ten years ago while shooting for a movie with veteran actor Nana Patekar, director Vivek Agnihotri agreed to Patekar’s last minute demand to insert himself into a song with Dutta, and even convinced the choreographer Ganesh Acharya to incorporate a lewd move. Dutta was visibly shocked, and refused to come out of her van, earning her the title of a “difficult actress”. Journalist Janice Sequeira who was present on the set and had catalogued the happenings with an unbiased hand, corroborates Dutta’s story, and since Sequeira is a credible witness, not prone to exaggeration or false statements, many Bollywood celebrities have come out in Dutta’s defense – on Twitter and other platforms.
Why ten years later, one might wonder. The fact is the trauma never really goes away. As director Hansal Mehta says, “India has never been a very conducive country for women in the workplace. Mental harassment, abuse and predatory behavior by people in positions of power are prevalent and considered perks of being in power. Years of oppression and colonial rule have permanently altered our DNA.” I cannot agree more. How many of us can attest to being harassed as a girl or a woman, even on our daily commute? The fact is we are conditioned to ignore and just shut up, because no one will believe us. We turn a blind eye to our own sufferings. Because even if people believe us, we are well aware that nothing can be done. I think instead of vilifying this actress and questioning her intentions, her courage should be admired and applauded, so that other victims can follow suit and find their path to becoming survivors.
Patekar’s response was to laugh off the entire thing and seek legal action. No surprises there.