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#MeToo: More accusations, denials, legal actions in showbiz

Mumbai, Oct 10: The dark underbelly of showbiz continued to shine bright on Wednesday as well-known women like actors Sandhya Mridul and Amyra Dastur and singer Sona Mohapatra came out about their unsavoury harassment experiences, even as the IFTDA sent a notice to actor Alok Nath who has been accused of rape by writer-producer Vinta Nanda.

A day after Nanda addressed a press conference here, claiming Alok sexually violated her around 19 years ago, Sandhya came out and supported her voice, recounting her own experience with the actor who is known for his ‘sanskaari’ on-screen image.

Sandhya took the social media route to describe her ordeal with Alok during an outdoor shoot, where he would trouble her in an inebriated state.
“The problem is sexual harassment has been open to interpretation. I come from a time when nobody wanted to hear. I was a nobody. When I tried to speak I was labelled arrogant and difficult. And replaced from work. And there was no social media to make ourselves heard, directly. It has taken me years to lay those demons to rest and move on,” said Sandhya.

Alok on Tuesday had addressed Nanda’s claim, calling it “absurd”. His lawyer Ashok Sarogi on Wednesday said the accusations against Alok were false.
On its part, the Indian Film and Television Directors Association (IFTDA) on Wednesday said it has drafted a notice to be sent to Alok, and it has already sent a notice to Vikas Bahl.

Bahl was last year accused of sexual harassment by a former employee of the film collective Phantom Films, for an incident that took place in 2015 in Goa. The allegation resurfaced as the #MeToo movement garnered steam in India.

Kashyap last week came out in support of the allegations in a HuffPost India report and also tweeted about it, while Motwane called Bahl a “sexual offender”.

Bahl, known for “Queen”, has sent a legal notice to his former Phantom Films partners Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane, whom he has called “opportunists” for making “defamatory allegations” in the wake of the ongoing #MeToo movement.

Bahl was last year accused of sexual harassment by a former employee of the film collective Phantom Films, for an incident that took place in 2015 in Goa. The allegation resurfaced as the #MeToo movement garnered steam in India.

Kashyap last week came out in support of the allegations in a HuffPost India report and also tweeted about it, while Motwane called Bahl a “sexual offender”.

Bahl, through two separate but almost similar legal notices dated October 9 and sent to Kashyap and Motwane via email, has “denied all allegations and suggestions” made by them. He has reserved his “right to take appropriate legal action” against them, and claims the statements have been made as a result of professional jealousy and with the sole intent to defame him, malign his image and destroy his career.

While singer Kailash Kher has already been named by a female journalist, Sona came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct too.

“I met Kailash for coffee in Prithvi Café to discuss a forthcoming concert where both our bands were playing and after the usual, a hand on my thigh with lines like, ‘You’re so beautiful’, ‘Feel so good that a musician got you (Ram) not an actor’,” she tweeted.

Amyra came forward to tell IANS that she has faced harassment in Bollywood as well as in the southern film industry.

Citing an incident, Amyra said: “I have had an actor squeeze himself up against me during a shot in a song and whisper in my ear that he was so glad that I was in the film with him. When I threw him off me and refused to speak to him again, he made my experience miserable.

“My director told me to suck it up and honestly couldn’t care less. I was constantly called early to set, made to wait for hours and hours for my shot. I was made to shoot 18 hours a day, I slept for 4-5 hours if I was lucky.”

However, she says she doesn’t have the “guts” to name and shame the people. “Until I don’t feel safe and secure, I won’t point fingers.”
Actor Kay Kay Menon is all for making the society safer by dealing with sexual harassment cases “seriously”.

The world of Indian showbiz has woken up to volley of allegations against prominent names ever since Tanushree Dutta two weeks ago reiterated her experience with veteran actor Nana Patekar on the set of a 2008 film. (IANS)