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MUMBAI: Bollywood stars are speaking up against sexual harassment after allegations against veteran actor Nana Patekar surfaced this week, with several calling for action against perpetrators in an industry that is notorious for its exploitation of women.
Tanushree Dutta, a Bollywood actress and former Miss India, said in press interviews this week that Patekar, a veteran actor who is now 67, had harassed her on the sets of a film in 2008. Dutta had made the same allegations in 2008 and Patekar had denied them at the time.
“Back then, these incidents would be discussed only behind closed doors and not openly, as is being done now. No one supported me,” Dutta told Zoom TV in an interview.
Calls to Patekar on Friday went unanswered. But Rajendra Shirodkar, a lawyer for Patekar, threatened legal action against Dutta for making “false allegations”.
“We’ve sent her a notice for making false allegations. She should apologize to my client,” Shirodkar told Reuters. “If she doesn’t, then we shall chart a future course of action”.
Dutta alleges that Patekar wanted an “intimate step” with her in a dance number in the film “Horn OK Please”.
When she refused, Dutta alleges that Patekar called workers of a local political party who damaged her car and threatened her.
An old video of actress Tanushree Dutta’s car being vandalised while she was seated inside is doing the rounds on social media on Monday. It has been reported that the video is allegedly of the same incident in 2008 of which Tanushree spoke in her interviews – Tanushree accused Nana Patekar of sending political party goons to intimidate her after she walked out of a special song sequence because of the actor’s alleged inappropriate behavior.
In the now viral video, Tanushree can be seen seated in a car, which was stopped by the mob. Her car’s windshield and side windows were violently broken and an unidentified man was seen jumping on the roof of the car. After several minutes, policemen arrived at the studio and took charge, after which Tanushree was able to leave the studio, with police protection.
The #MeToo movement has found resonance in Bollywood, where the vast majority of producers and film-makers are men, most of whom are from prominent families in the film industry.
Ever since Tanushree Dutta dropped the bomb after she claimed to have been sexually harassed by veteran actor Nana Patekar, the internet was taken by storm. Fans and netizens alike have been buzzing about this piece of news for more than a week. Several Bollywood celebrities too have made their opinions public about the situation.
Several actors’ such as Priyanka Chopra, Twinkle Khanna, Farhan Akhtar, Renuka Shahane and Richa Chadha among others have come out in support of Tanushree. Many like Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan have opted for a diplomatic approach on the controversy.
This thread is very telling. @janiceseq85 was there at the time of the incident being debated today. Even when #TanushreeDutta had career concerns to keep quiet 10 years ago she did not & her story hasn’t changed now. Her courage should be admired, not her intention questioned. https://t.co/Ola3MNdmtS
— Farhan Akhtar (@FarOutAkhtar) September 27, 2018
It hurts to be #TanushreeDutta rn. To be alone, questioned. No woman wants publicity that opens the floodgates of trolling and insensitivity.What happened to her on set was intimidation.Her only fault was she didn’t back down-takes a special courage to be #TanushreeDutta.
— TheRichaChadha (@RichaChadha) September 27, 2018
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. https://t.co/sF3mS5o1P8
— Sonam K Ahuja (@sonamakapoor) September 28, 2018
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!
— Sonam K Ahuja (@sonamakapoor) September 28, 2018
Please read this thread before judging or shaming #TanushreeDutta a working environment without harassment and intimidation is a fundamental right and by speaking up this brave woman helps pave the way towards that very goal for all of us! https://t.co/f8Nj9YWRvE
— Twinkle Khanna (@mrsfunnybones) September 28, 2018
If my previous tweet sounds vague let me clarify it. This should stop the questioning of intention of Tanushree Datta because there is a witness account of what happened and @janiceseq85 is as credible as the come .
— Anurag Kashyap (@anuragkashyap72) September 28, 2018
— Parineeti Chopra (@ParineetiChopra) September 28, 2018
However, the actress is disappointed because of one particular star, arguably the biggest Bollywood icon – legend Amitabh Bachchan. At the trailer launch of his upcoming movie Thugs of Hindostan, Amitabh Bachchan was asked about the issue and his take on it. Big B, at the time, replied that neither is he Tanushree Dutta nor is he Nana Patekar and left it at that.
Now, in an interview with HT, Tanushree expressed her disappointment with Big B’s response to the entire controversy. “I’m hurt, as these are people who do movies on social causes.
” Talking further about how these movies win the hearts of the audience, the actress shared, “But when it comes to standing up and doing something about what is happening in front of you, there are these evasive statements that don’t make sense,” the actress said.