Tanushree Dutta, former Miss India and a Hindi film actress, in a recent interview, accused Nana Patekar of misbehaving with her. She not only accused Nana Patekar of sexual harassment but also accused Bollywood of keeping quiet on the issue even after knowing about the incident.
“He was trying all kinds of intimidation tactics”
She said that the incident happened during a shoot for a song for the 2008 movie “Horn Ok Pleasssss” in which she was supposed to perform. In an interview, Dutta alleged that Patekar was not even supposed to be in the song but kept trying to be on set with her. “He was trying all kind of intimidation tactics to rattle me. He was grabbing me by the arms, pushing me around then he would ask the choreographers to move and teach me how to dance, and the next thing I know he wanted to do an intimate sequence with me. It was ridiculous.”
She further said that when she complained about the same, she was allegedly cornered. Things worsened when Nana Patekar allegedly called MNS party workers who broke her car. She had to finally opt out of the song.
She also alleged that film’s choreographer Ganesh Acharya, director Rakesh Sarang and producer Samee Siddique ganged up against her and witnessed everything mutely. Dutta also said that her complaint to the Cine and Television Artists Association went unheeded. She also alleged that even though everybody was aware of the incident, nobody from the film industry came forward in her support. In 2008, Dutta had accused an unnamed actor of misbehaving with her.
While speaking to Indian Express, she said that post the incident the actress filed an FIR, however, a counter-FIR was filed to harass her family. She also said that she had the documented proof of the same. “I may have all the evidence but tomorrow, if an actor chooses to speak up, will her word be dismissed if she doesn’t have any documentation?” she said.
She last acted in a 2010 movie after which she relocated to the USA. Reportedly, the incident left her deeply scarred and she even developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“#MeToo movement won’t happen until you acknowledge what happened in 2008”
The #MeToo movement saw celebrities even from Hollywood speaking about the sexual harassment they have faced. This followed soon after the several sexual misconduct accusations against Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein. This ultimately led to his arrest in May, however, he was later released on bail.
When asked can a similar movement can happen in India, Dutta said, “I was probably one of the first people in the history of this country in the media field to speak up and stand up. Everybody saw what happened but the memory and the popular perception of it are that Tanushree Dutta spoke up against harassment and then she was no more,” as reported by News18, adding that it was hypocritical to ask why the movement is not happening in India when the 2008 incident went unacknowledged.
“What can I do about it? You tell me?’
While speaking to Mirror Now, Nana Patekar said, “What can I do about it? You tell me.” He also said that there were 50-100 people on the set that time. He concluded by saying that he would continue doing his work irrespective of what people said.
Actor Nana Patekar denies sexual harassment allegations by Actress Tanushree Dutta. pic.twitter.com/vqyTpSkBm4
— Mirror Now (@MirrorNow) September 27, 2018
While speaking to ANI, Patekar’s lawyer Shirodkar said that they were in process of sending a legal notice to Dutta over alleged “false allegations”, as reported by NDTV.
Choreographer Ganesh Acharya told News18, “It’s a wrong statement that Nana ji called members of some political party on set. It never happened. He’s a very sweet person, he can never do that.”
Director Rakesh Sarang and producer Samee Siddiqui too have dismissed the allegations against Patekar.
Journalist’s first-hand account of the incident
Janice Sequira, a cub reporter in 2008 was covering the behind the scenes of the song being shot on behalf of Aaj Tak and Headlines Today. Sequeira, in a Facebook post, detailed the first-hand account of what happened that day. She said that during the shoot Dutta appeared to visibly upset. After Patekar joined the song, Dutta walked off the set. She writes that when Dutta refused to come out of the vanity van, goons came out of nowhere and started beating up the van.
Sometimes, incidents that take place even a decade ago remain fresh in your memory. What happened with #TanushreeDutta…
The Logical Indian take
Tanushree Dutta’s interview has given birth to a lot of debate. Many people have come ahead to the defence of Nana Patekar who apart from being a popular actor is also known for his activism in helping Maharashtra farmers. While it is appreciable that Patekar has been working extensively to improve the farmers’ condition, that does not take away the fact that the person can be guilty of harassing someone.
Another issue which again has cropped up through this incident is that of slut shaming. Many quarters have started putting blame on Dutta. Several people have called her characterless because she is an actress and “wears short clothes”. This kind of response is something to be strongly opposed. This not only takes us away from the main issue but also isolates the person who is standing up for himself/herself.
Dutta is also being termed as opportunistic for raising the issue after 10 years, looking at it as an opportunity to make a comeback into films. Firstly, it hardly matters when a person chooses to speak about the harassment. Sexual harassment remains sexual harassment no matter how many days, months or even years would have passed. Secondly, Dutta had filed an FIR immediately after the incident for which she and her family were reportedly harassed. In 2008, even a video showing goons attacking Dutta car was flashed across the TV channels.
While the world is sensitizing more to the issue of sexual harassment and abuse, it is high time that these conversations are also carried out, debated and discussed openly in India too. A strong message needs to be sent out that no matter your gender, age or the position you hold if you are guilty, a strict course of action will be taken against you.