The Breakthrough Voice 27th September, 2018

Tanushree Dutta Spoke Out Ages Ago. We Did Absolutely Nothing.

While Tanushree Dutta recently spoke up against Nana Patekar sexually harassing her ten years ago, her sexual harassment allegation against him isn’t breaking news. She had filed an FIR and spoken out against him in 2008 for harassing her on the sets of the film Horn ‘Ok’ Pleassss. There was a cover-up, and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) went out of their way to blacklist her from the film industry.

Tanushree Dutta also stated that Nana Patekar had a counter-FIR ready before she could press charges and her complaints were eventually dismissed. She was relentlessly attacked and shamed for it, and she found her car vandalised (courtesy MNS members). Besides Bollywood and political personalities, the media targeted her as well – for example, Zee News released an article demonising Tanushree Dutta titled ‘Nana Patekar gives it back to Tanushree’.

In that Land-of-Delusion called Bollywood, sexual harassment does not exist and is a figment in the imagination of a select ‘diva’ few. The industry refuses to acknowledge that sexual harassment in the workplace is a grave issue and looks the other way instead. A potential witness, choreographer Ganesh Acharya, chose to defend Nana Patekar as a “sweet person”. Last I checked, there’s nothing “sweet” about sexual harassment. Patekar’s handful of charity work does not automatically make him a decent human being.

Another eyewitness that day on the set of Horn ‘Ok’ Pleassss had a different version of events:

Soon after, Tanushree Dutta’s film career dwindled out and she was forced to quit the industry. She found herself facing mental health issues as well. In the advent of the #MeToo movement, Tanushree Dutta found herself able to speak up against Nana Patekar once more. However, as always, the film industry is still silent about sexual harassment in the workplace – one too many closets in the skeleton. Till today, articulating #MeToo in Bollywood will cost an actress her career, and no one in the film industry has spoken up in support of Tanushree Dutta. On the other hand, Nana Patekar continued to work in the film industry.

We laud Tanushree Dutta’s courage and resilience. When formerly god-like moguls such as Harvey Weinstein can fall from grace after a massive number of women united and spoke out against him, there’s hope for the future. That unity, and support for that unity, is unfortunately lacking in the Bollywood industry. Very few Bollywood actresses spoke out and expressed solidarity in the wake of #MeToo such as Konkona Sen Sharma, Swara Bhaskar, Richa Chadda and Radhika Apte. Tanushree is right – the #MeToo movement won’t happen until Bollywood looks inwards and faces its own demons.

Featured image used for representational purpose only. Source: India Today

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