The #MeToo movement – which led to thousands of people sharing their stories of sexual harassment – started nearly a year ago.
Now in Indian Film Industry’s #MeToo movement has taken off thus far four have been blamed for sexual harassment and assault; Nana Patekar, Vikas Bahl, Rajat Kapoor, and Alok Nath.
In an interview with Indian Express, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na actor Imran Khan said that three women approached him about Bahl’s doing but he was told to stay shut about the matter.
“I think it was long, long, long overdue. There have been times when I wanted to speak out. I was advised to stay quiet because they said people will assume I am trying to grab publicity. They (people) will say I am trying to become relevant and come in the news since my films have not worked well. Time and again, people around me will tell me to not speak up,” he said.
The actor added, “There are a lot of things that have happened in front of me and bothered me for years. Even after being aware of so many things, I could not say it out because I somewhere felt no one will support me on it.”
“I cannot name people I am talking about, but I will tell you stories as I know it.”
“Very early in my career, there was a director who was auditioning for the female lead in a film. He made girls do a photoshoot in bikinis, in sexy poses. These photographs went straight to the director’s personal laptops. These were not costumed tests. These were not even used for marketing. So, what was he doing with these photographs?”
“Later, he was showing these photos to the three shortlisted actresses and other women on the sets. I found it appalling. It is sexism and definitely an emotional and mental harassment. It was a wrong usage of power. There is a story later that happened with the actress. I hope she speaks of it through the story I am telling, it is her choice,” Imran continued.
Speaking of Bahl’s case, he said the matter was conveniently “brushed under the carpet” by his colleagues and he felt like he was the “odd one out” for bringing it up.
“Everyone is talking about Vikas Bahl. I have heard his stories from three other actresses. Ranging from inappropriate touching to straight up saying that if you were cast in the film, what will I get in return. Again, I am telling you what I know directly through the actresses or from the industry.”
“The story of this girl (in case of Vikas Bahl) came somewhere a year ago, if I am not wrong. Everyone in the film industry knew. I was at a social gathering 5-6 months ago, with a lot of people and the conversation came about MeToo movement in Hollywood. At a point, I said what about Bollywood,” he explained.
“The Vikas Bahl matter was brushed under the carpet, a few weeks after the news first appeared. I saw him smiling, posing for pictures with every celebrity in the industry. At that point, he started making a film with Hrithik (Roshan). I was like how is it in Hollywood a culprit is shunned but here he was making a proper film. Everyone was socialising with him. So, I brought it up at the party and realised only I was only odd one there.”
Realising his earlier mistake of not having spoken up in support of those women, Imran says he will actively make it a point to stand up for them now.
“These people might not come out in open, but I wanted to stand up and say I support them completely. I cannot be silent about it anymore. My conscience will not allow me to. As a man, I know what it is to say that. I do not want to deal with negative publicity but how these women have come out is brave. I do not want them to feel that men in the industry are not standing by them. I have chosen my words and said what I intended to say. I have been silent for long enough and it makes me feel dirty.”
Then he added that there’s a reason Bollywood’s A-listers are not speaking up about the issue… that’s because they’re all hiding the perpetrators.
“I know why people are not coming out. Even now, I am not naming because the names are too big and no one will trust me without evidence. I cannot imagine how it will be for all those women who have been a victim.”