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From Anurag Kashyap To Sajid Khan, Vikas Bahl To Alok Nath Why #MeToo Movement In Bollywood Will Never Get Closure-OPINION

With the recent hullabaloo around Anurag Kashyap and Payal Ghosh's #MeToo accusations, we revisit all the sexual misconduct cases that got Bollywood in focus. Some false, some true, some left without closure.

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From Anurag Kashyap To Sajid Khan, Vikas Bahl To Alok Nath Why #MeToo Movement In Bollywood Will Never Get Closure-OPINION
India's Me Too Movement and focus on Bollywood is back. It had been almost a year that Bollywood was blissfully away from any sexual harassment allegations but this time one more aspiring actress has spoken out and one more acclaimed director is under the scanner. The victim is a Bengali actress Payal Ghosh and the accused in Anurag Kashyap. The case that started on twitter with Payal's declaration seems to be an insurgence of the #MeToo Movement in Bollywood. But the biggest question is that will the people who look up to those accused ever get closure? India's track record with Me Too is ugly and we can hardly look eye to eye with our Hollywood counterpart when it comes to justice for those who spoke up giving rise to Time's Up Movement.  

#MeToo movement hit America with full force in 2017, the biggest personalities were called out. From Harvey Weinstein to Kevin Spacey, the survivors named and shamed their perpetrators. The result? One of the biggest producers in Hollywood, Harvey Weinstein, co-founder of Miramax, after 2 years of trial, is now lodged in Wende Correction Facility serving 23 years of jail and was charged on two accounts. One count of criminal sexual assault in the first degree and one count of rape in the third degree.

Another big name that faced the wrath of #MeToo was actor/producer Kevin Spacey. In 2017 a boy named Anthony Rapp alleged that Spacey had made sexual advances towards him in the year 1986 and he was only 14 then and Kevin was 26. Kevin had taken to his twitter back then and apologised to Rapp for his inappropriate 'drunken behaviour' but also stated not remembering the incident. After several allegations, the filming of the finale season of the hit Netflix show ‘House Of Cards’ came to a halt and Kevin was fired as the lead and as the producer of the show. Though all the criminal cases against Spacey did not turn out to help survivors get closure, he surely was outcast professionally.

#MeToo and Bollywood!

India's Me Too Movement came to the forefront in mid-2018 and several survivors spoke out against biggest of names from the Indian film industry. Below is the detailed timeline of the names that were called out and the action that was taken against them. 

Nana Patekar

In India, the #MeToo movement gained momentum in 2018 thanks to Tanushree Dutta. Dutta, a former Miss India and an actress, on one of her trips to India (she now lives in the US), had revisited her 2008 alleged sexual misconduct case with National Film Award winner and a Padma Shri recipient Nana Patekar. Mumbai Police did register a case after 10 years but by June 2019, Patekar was cleared of the sexual harassment charges and their report stated that the complaint filed by Tanushree could be "malicious" and "out of revenge". Nana has a film called Tadka lined up next.  

Sajid Khan

In October 2018, Sajid Khan was another big name that was accused of making inappropriate advances and of sexual misconduct by several women and models aspiring to be actresses. At that time Khan was helming the third instalment of Houseful starring Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh, and others. The director was dropped from Houseful 3 and replaced by Farhad Samji. The Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association also levied a one-year ban on Khan which was revoked in December 2019.  None of the survivors who spoke up against Sajid Khan went on to file a case against him.

Vikas Bahl And Phantom Films

Vikas Bahl, a National Film Award winner was accused by a former employee of Phantom Films for sexually harassing her during the making of Queen starring Kangana Ranaut. Following the allegations, Phantom Films was dissolved. The girl who accused Bahl never pursued the case legally and hence right before the release of his big film Super 30 starring Hrithik Roshan, an ‘internal committee’ of Reliance Entertainment (producers of Super 30) cleared Bahl of all charges. Bahl was reinstated as the director of the film and was also spotted enjoying the success of Super 30 that became a huge blockbuster.

Alok Nath

The most Sanskari of them all, Alok Nath’s name too popped up in 2018. Vinta Nanda, a writer accused Nath of rape when they worked together on a show called Tara in the mid-90s. Many known actors like Renuka Shahane, Himani Shivpuri, Sandhya Mridul, Deepika Amin recounted stories they have heard of or have been in uncomfortable situations that involved Alok Nath. On October 15 Alok sued Vinta of defamation and demanded an apology and Rs 1 as compensation. On October 17 Vinta filed a case of rape against Nath. 2 years later the case was closed due to lack of evidence. Ironically Alok Nath went on to play the role of a judge in a movie based on the #MeToo Movement.

Mukesh Chabra

In October 2018, 4 models and budding actresses gave anonymous interviews to Mid-Day and accused casting director and first-time filmmaker Mukesh Chabra of sexual misconduct. Fox Star India the producers of his debut film Dil Bechara, suspended him. The Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) after "months of investigation" found the allegations baseless and “didn't find him guilty”. Chabra's Dil Bechara starring late Sushant Singh Rajput went on to rake in record-breaking 95 million views on day one after its OTT release in July 2020. 

Kailash Kher

Kailash Kher was called out by various women during the Me Too movement in 2018. Renowned singer Sona Mahapatra narrated her ordeal with Kher when he inappropriately touched her during their meeting. Another budding singer Simran Soni took to twitter to reveal how Kailash sexted her on several occasions. Kher continues to hold stage shows and sing in movies and be a part of government initiatives. No official complaint was made against him.

Anu Mallik

Renowned award-winning singer and composer Anu Malik was accused of sexual misconduct by famous singers Neha Bhasin and Shweta Pandit. He was eventually fired as the judge from Indian Idol in 2018 but was later reinstated in 2019 after the matter cooled down.

Rajkumar Hirani

In 2018 a woman who worked as an assistant director on Sanju starring Ranbir Kapoor alleged that Hirani assaulted her at his home-cum-office. The director denied the allegations and also volunteered to be part of any inquiry to prove his innocence. Though the allegations could never be proved, the director is still part of many government initiatives.

While researching the events and the timeline of India’s #MeToo movement focusing on Bollywood, one thing that remains clear is that all the accused have been comfortably placed back into their professional circle. Is it just legal responsibility of society and not a moral one to back women who dare to narrate their ordeal?

#Meetoo is an extremely strong and powerful movement. Not all cases are genuine though every woman has a right to tell their story and as a society, we should be sensitive enough to sit back and think. But what happens when the accusations turn out to be false? Does the accused now become a victim and the girl who falsely levied charges becomes the accused? We are yet to see a case in Bollywood where tables have turned or even nearing a closure. A few days of prominence on national news at the cost of tarnishing someone's image and fulfilling some misplaced agendas is exactly what India's #MeToo is suffering from right now. 

The timing of Payal Ghosh’s allegations has been questioned by many because Anurag has been very vocal in demanding a fair trial for Rhea Chakraborty in the Sushant Singh Rajput Death case.  Apart from that Kashyap does not hold his thoughts while criticising the government and its policies. The case took a dramatic turn when Payal a few days ago demanded his arrest, or else she will observe a hunger strike. Who knows the hunger strike might just turn this case into a fast-food delivery system. 

If you go by Payal Ghosh’s now-deleted tweet, which she claims she was forced to delete, was posted in October 2018, when the Me Too movement was at its peak in India. Ghosh had made a rather insensitive comment on one of the survivors. She wrote, “Nobody rape here, they try to take chance, if you are not comfortable walk away, as simple, no need to make so much drama.” Well, the drama is done, she did not walk away and it is not going to be simple for Anurag Kashyap.

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