Bollywood's diverse response to Tanushree Dutta-Nana Patekar controversy
Several Bollywood celebrities have come out to support Tanushree Dutta, while others have remained wholly evasive
Over the last one week, the Hindi film industry has been gripped by a raging controversy surrounding Tanushree Dutta’s sexual harassment allegations against veteran actor Nana Patekar. In an interview to a TV channel, Dutta alleged that Patekar misbehaved with her on the sets of the comedy film Horn OK Pleassss in 2008. In the same interview, she slammed choreographer Ganesh Acharya, producer Sami Siddiqui and director Rakesh Sarang for ignoring her complaints and enabling Patekar’s alleged behavior. In a separate interview to a News channel, Tanushree flagged concerns about the difficulties of initiating a #MeToo movement in India, alleging that entire film industry was privy to her situation but no one chose to raise a voice.
When the matter was referred to top Bollywood celebrities for comment, several of them shied away from direct engagement while others expressed support for Tanushree on social media.
At the trailer launch of Thugs of Hindostan on Thursday, Amitabh Bachchan said, “Neither is my name Tanushree nor Nana Patekar. How can I comment on the topic?”
His co-star Aamir Khan said, “It is very sad whenever something of this sort happens. However, it will not be fair to take sides without a detailed investigation.”
At a different event, superstar Salman Khan claimed ignorance about the matter, saying, "I am not aware of this. Let me know and understand what is happening. I have been here and I am sure the legal team will handle that. We will see what is going on. I am not aware of it.”
Retweeting journalist Janice Sequeira’s firsthand account of the incident, actor-director Farhan Akhtar wrote,
— Farhan Akhtar (@FarOutAkhtar) September 27, 2018
Commenting on Farhan’s post, crossover star Priyanka Chopra wrote, “Agreed... The world needs to Believe Surviviors.”
Parineeti Chopra responded to Priyanka’s tweet by writing, “I agree too. Survivors are survivors because they have dealt with something horrible and come out on the other side. So believe them, respect them.”
Sonam K Ahuja tweeted,
— Sonam K Ahuja (@sonamakapoor) September 28, 2018
Director Anurag Kashyap tweeted,
— Anurag Kashyap (@anuragkashyap72) September 28, 2018
Calling for stringent action against predators, director Hansal Mehta wrote, “Will this also die a natural death with no formal complaint, no proper investigation and no punitive action against the predator if he is found guilty? Honestly, I am cynical about the outcome. These offenders go scot free because our outrage is short-lived. We must stop asking ‘what did you about it then’ and start asking ‘what can we do about it now’. It’s now or never.”
Actor-turned-author Twinkle Khanna demanded a harassment-free work environment for all women in her post. “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,” she wrote.
Actor Kunal Kapoor tweeted, “Whether it’s a man or a woman, just because someone is good at their work or charitable, doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of harassment.”
Meanwhile, Nana Patekar’s lawyer Rajendra Shikodkar announced that they were 'in process’ of sending a legal notice to Tanushree. “In process of sending legal notice to Tanushree Dutta as she has made false allegations and has spoken untruth. We will send the notice later today which will basically a notice seeking apology for her statements making allegations,” the lawyer said.