What’s hot and brewing in the Bollywood corridors is actually a disgusting reality that is no more inside the shells. It’s out. And, everyone in the country and across the globe now knows about the odour of its dour facet. It wasn’t long enough to take a sabbatical from #MeToo outrage patted on Miramax’s former Co-founder, Harvey Weinstein (in Hollywood); and Queen famed Kangana Ranaut’s revelation of harassment (in Bollywood), that we’re now scratching the drying wounds with the old-hidden-and-untold stories and digging into it. Reason? It can’t be just for the fun of having a gossip. It is for the dare to face the truth and to see the face beyond its glamour.
#MeToo is not just a social and social media movement, it is a part of our life and the world we are putting up in, and it will continue to be so until women choose to shut the door for the predators and open the door for themselves. #MeToo is a thumb down to the womanizers; eve teasers; (partly) sexists, even to those who try to barter some happiness with intimate, sexual, or physical benefits; and also to those who care least about the dignity of a woman and try to harass or assault her. In fact, it is a thumb down to those who consider women inferior, weaker and as an object of pleasure, in a nutshell. All these negative incidents that are happening around the world with women can be termed as the impotent elements that contribute nothing to an ideal world that is normally fed with all good-better-best things or systems. And sadly, the singularity of this campaign, “Me” has claimers in plural; hence, #WeToo.
Surprisingly, what is bothering everyone: “Why Now?” Though truth, when not concealed and painted, but exposed on time, helps a great deal (agreed); but it is any day better to eat the truth from the platter of reality rather than dumping it forever in the bin and encouraging the wrong to foster. And, if not now then when? It takes a great deal for one to stand up and speak up, especially for the victims, in this case. Bollywood is no alien to this concept as well. Though in shades and patches, such incidences definitely remind of “The Second Sex” (1949) by Simone de Beauvoir. Simone was a French existentialist who, in this book (its volumes), has discussed the treatment of women in the society and in people’s mentality, in depth. Fortunately, women, who bear the power to create life and bring life into the world, are no longer just the second sex. Let us delve slowly into the Bollywood side of the story of #MeToo.
The fire in the Bollywood sprang up recently with Tanushree Dutta’s allegations of sexual harassment against the veteran "Kaala" famed actor, Nana Patekar. This incident, as she claims, happened on the sets of “Horn ‘Ok’ Pleasss.” It is much believable as it is one of the common cases that appear with many women (not just with ones from Bolly) in different contexts as much common is the concept of “casting couch” in the film industry. She has also alleged Vivek Agnihotri of his inappropriate behaviour during a movie shoot in 2005. However, her boldness has emboldened other women (victims) in Bollywood to bolster up and open the voice lock. So, we got the next voice against Rajat Kapoor, Subhash Ghai, Chetan Bhagat, Vikas Bahl, Alok Nath, and more.
Rajat Kapoor, who on being accused by two women for sexual harassment (for inappropriate conduct) on Twitter, has posted an apology while claiming to be trying hard to be a decent man throughout his life, and that now he’ll "try harder". A journalist had shared the details of a telephonic interview wherein he is asking her “tell me your vital stats”, and commenting, “as sexy as she sounds.”
Recently, Mahima Kukreja, a Twitter-zen, re-shared a narration by an undisclosed woman who has accused Subhash Ghai of raping her further mentioning that he promised to be her mentor in the film industry and used to invite her to meet him in his “think pad” i.e. his two-bedroom-flat. He even tried to touch her inappropriately and kiss her, then one day he spiked her drink and drove her to a hotel, and raped her. Subhash Ghai denies these allegations and warns to sue her with defamation attempt when found guilt-free. He told the media, “It is sad that it is becoming a fashion to malign anyone known, bringing some stories from the past without any truth or blown up false allegations if all. I deny strictly and firmly all false allegations like these." Seems, some are using the power of "me too" in an inappropriate fashion. Anyway, we just wish that truth (in black and white) comes up.
Moving onto next incidence. How can we forget about the dissolution of Phantom Films over the accusation on Vikas Bahl! Kangana Ranaut, who had accused Aditya Pancholi of harassment and house arrest and Hrithik Roshan of ditching her and harassing her mentally, has also accused Vikas Bahl of sexual misconduct with whom she worked in “Queen”. This actress, with a no-nonsense and speaking-up-on-the-face attitude, said that Vikas would “bury his face in my neck and hold me really tight". Queen’s co-star Nayani Dixit has also accused Vikas of harassment. Rewinding the times: at 2015 Phantom Films party in Goa, Vikas was accused of sexual misconduct. Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, who has recently quit Twitter, [“(@sonamakapoor Oct 5) I’m going off twitter for a while. It’s just too negative. Peace and love to all!,”] has had a war of words with Kangana, regarding Vikas’s case, calling her “#MeTooStory.” Though Sonam is a super strong woman, and a strong supporter of women and their decision to lead life with dignity and integrity, she stumbled with Kangana. And as Queen has already clarified to the rumours of her being a fame-digger, she actually doesn’t need any controversy to gain popularity as she already has gained fame due to her hard work and performance. In case, you have missed out, she is also among the ones who have talked about nepotism in the film industry.
Another flip: Sexual harassment allegations against the 46-year-old director, Sajid Khan, posed by assistant director Saloni Chopra, actress Rachel White and journalist Karishma Upadhyay that has consequently led to the cancellation of October 12 shoot of “Housefull 4” by Akshay Kumar. Padman actor, Akshay is known to be a disciplined actor who is believed to have never cancelled a date in his career spanning 28 years, has shown his solidarity for supporting women, this way. Even Bipasha Basu seems to have her story against Sajid.
Never-married brother of Farah Khan, Sajid is still single and ready to mingle. He is known to show the heroines of his movies in bikini, and in trying hard to find love of his life. After breaking up with Jacqueline Fernandez, Sajid found his place in Esha Gupta's heart. Other actresses who preceded them are Urvashi Dholakia, Tamannah Bhatia, and Rakshanda Khan, with Gauhar Khan being in the first place. Rachel termed him as a "serial offender", while talking to a media, "I don’t have screenshots as proofs. I was just waiting for someone to speak against Sajid, so that I could follow. When I read Saloni’s (Chopra) story, I knew I had to share mine. I did not want her story to fade away. People needed to know that this guy is a serial offender". Of course, having proofs in such incidences are quite difficult, one cannot always wear a camera or have a recorder like a spy, or take screenshots. But, then how to prove it? Anyway, while meddling through other stories, we found out some more revelations.
Salman Khan and Amitabh Bachchan are also in this pit. Both the superstars, who are considered equal to the “Lords” of the Bollywood are also dragged into the #MeToo campaign. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan seems to have thrown hints at Salman on the lines of #MeToo campaign. Her tweet hinting at Salman Khan goes viral, yet to prove as efforts in vain towards the end as it surfaced as a Fake Tweet. Ughh, rumours! However, in case you want to know what was that about. She mentioned, “… I was abused and threatened….Bollywood’s biggest charity man who calls himself ‘human’ is not so human after all.”
However, she has always made it clear saying, “I have always spoken out, I spoke in the past, I am speaking now, and I will continue to speak.. When it comes to helping women find their voice, find the strength, feel confident about sharing their stories, it’s not about the current time. This has been going on, since a lot of times and I am glad it has found a certain momentum today.” On the other hand, ignoring and erasing Salman’s controversial comment, “his filming schedule was so gruelling he felt like a ‘raped woman’ from the mind isn't also possible.
Well Aishwarya's dad-in-law is also caught in this fire. When Amitabh Bachchan posted saying, “'No woman should ever be subjected to any kind of misbehaviour or disorderly conduct at her workplace. Such acts should immediately be brought to the notice of the concerned authorities,” former Big Boss Contestant, and a popular celebrity hair stylist has taken up to Twitter to warn Amitabh Bachchan that his truth will be out soon.
Not just the film fraternity, music makers, singers and writers are also in the queue. Sona Mohapatra, a singer, slammed Sufi maestro Kailash Kher on Instagram with an allegation of harassment and mentioned about him touch her thighs. She also went on to mention Anu Malik (both Kailash and Anu as serial predator). In her post she wrote, “To all the young girls & women who are coming out with their experiences with this creep, journalists, ‘fans’ & even kids from college, know that you are not alone. This guy, #KailashKher is a serial predator & has been for years as are many others like Anu Malik in the industry... (Many journalists have been asking me for stories thinking that I’m most likely to ‘spill the beans’. I’m not) It is important that we stick to facts & our personal experiences to make this a serious & credible movement to help clean a system & lopsided power structure.”
In fact, a female journalist has also accused Kailash Kher, "This creep kept his hand on my thigh." Kailash Kher has apologized and at the same time mentioned that he respects humanity, especially women, (adding) “even more for the ones who work in the media since their work is difficult." #MeToo allegations aren’t wrong, as they seem to be. Whoa! In fact, one among India's top-selling authors, Chetan Bhagat, got tangled in #MeToo movement, when a woman shared the screenshots of WhatsApp conversations between them. He has issued an apology on Facebook.
Looking into the stories of the victims bracketed in the #MeToo campaign, the women and child development minister, Maneka Gandhi, plans to set up a panel of legal experts to look into the allegations made by many women. She also mentioned that she believes all the women who have come forward with their own stories.
In this modern and tough world, let’s not solely rely on the old belief, which goes as, “let not the (dreadful) past affect your present.” #MeToo movement has sparked the spirit that is (in a way) trying to assert that let the present and future not be based upon the feel of unjust and harassment, and the guilt of not attempting to be just towards oneself; as living free with respect and leading an ethical or ideal relationship, is every individual’s right.
This article is penned down by a female writer who wants a world with none of the women facing this grim situation to say, “#MeToo” or “#WeToo.”