Tales of women being harassed and molested are no new thing. However, it is praiseworthy that so many women from various spheres of life are coming forward and sharing their experiences of humiliation and torture they have faced in the hands of men placed in powerful social location. Very recently actor Tanushree Dutt revealed in an interview how she has been harassed by Nana Patekar in the sets of Horn ‘Ok’ Pleassss almost a decade ago. She claimed that she reported the incident back then as well but was eventually silenced as nobody supported her claims. A few other actors from Bollywood industry have from forward to support her claims and likes of hers. Sonam Kapoor Tweeted from her handle saying, “I believe #TanushreeDatta and @janiceseq85 recollection of the account. Janice is my friend, and she is anything but an exaggerator or a liar. And it’s upto us to stand together.” She further added saying, “Many of my co-workers,female and male have been harassed and bullied, but it’s their story to tell. If we don’t encourage their voices and instead vilify and question them, how will victims ever become survivors? Let them speak up! Stand up with them!”
A similar incident of harassment on sets have been revealed by a woman crew member of Phantom Films that has made huge success through films like Udta Punjab, Queen, Bombay Velvet and most recently Sacred Games which was aired on Netflix. It was Vikas Bahl of Phantom Films who insisted that he drops her to her hotel room after an exclusive party filled with Bollywood A-listers at Park Hyatt in south Goa on 4th May 2015. She recollected with absolute horror how Bahl had swiftly entered her room as she was using the washroom and pretended to pass out drunk on her bed. After prolonged attempts of asking him to leave, to which he did not respond, she made a pillow wall as a divider between them and slept very uncomfortably, only to awaken soon after with him masturbating on her back. She recalls feeling numb her horror and Bahl saying, “Fuck you, bitch” before pulling his pants and leaving her room. Episodes of her being harassed by Bahl did not stop there. It persisted in forms of gaslighting, making sexist remarks and even threats.
This woman and many like her refuse to be named as they are scared of their careers being turned to dust in the hands of these powerful men. What is disturbing is not only the perpetrators and their actions, but also of those who stand and watch. This woman in question recollects sharing this particular experience of hers with Anurag Kashyap, feeling that he would do something about it, she just wanted an apology from Bahl. But Kashyap didn’t really pay heed to her words, to which he respond now with remorse, “”Whatever happened was wrong. We didn’t handle it well, we failed. I cannot blame anyone but myself…But now we are determined to do better. We believe her completely. She has our undying support. What Bahl has done is horrifying. We are already on our path of course correction and will do everything in our capacity to fix it.”
However, it is not just restricted to Bollywood to which many look at with complete disdain, where casting couch and mild harassment are everyday business. Male University professors, who are supposed to impart knowledge and guidance to students are no exceptions. The following screenshots were shared by a student of a very reputed college of Mumbai and her astonishment and disgust while she talked about it would make people’s stomach churn. For women to find out that men who were there friends, their brothers, their professors, their guides have harassed and humiliated other women is very traumatising. However, #TimesUp and it is finally good to see so many women coming forward sharing their experience and in turn giving courage to many others to share theirs.