The #MeToo movement is something that will be written in history. For the first time, actors, politicians, directors, and producers were named and shamed for years of sexual assault or rape.
Even in Pakistan, Meesha Shafi accused Ali Zafar of harassment.
This was quite a huge deal since naming him meant that she had to deal with a lot of flack from his fans and the general public.
Whenever a woman comes forward with allegations of sexual assault, her character and life choices are questioned, her clothes are judged, her movements are scrutinized, and the victim is further pushed into a corner with the entire world against her.
Bollywood’s #MeToo movement started long before ours did.
Famous actresses like Richa Chadha, Swara Bhaskar, and Radhika Apte came forward and revealed that the casting couch does indeed exist. However, they did not name their harassers out of fear of their careers, and even their lives. Even the mere admittance of this harassment saw them being slightly shunned from mainstream Bollywood.
However, there was a #MeToo story that remained ignored and forgotten that has recently resurfaced. Actress Tanushree Dutta has come forward with claims of being sexually harassed by Nana Patekar way back in 2008.
Dutta alleges that on the set of ‘Horn Ok Please’, Patekar forcefully pushed himself on to the sets on an item song and insisted on doing a ‘lewd’ dance step with her. Tanushree refused because it wasn’t a part of her contract, but the producer, director, and choreographer insisted. In the end, Tanushree was forced to do the dance step and then when she resisted she was kicked off the film entirely. Tanushree’s account was backed by journalist Janice Sequiera, who was on set that day and was told of the entire incident.
This came as a shock for the entire Bollywood industry because Patekar is revered as a great actor and human being.
It is also the first time that an actress has named her harasser. Apart from being a shock, the public has seen industry bigwigs struggling to answer media questions about these allegations.
However, powerful women in the industry are coming out in support of Dutta, and it’s honestly heartwarming.
— PRIYANKA (@priyankachopra) September 28, 2018
Priyanka Chopra, Parineeti Chopra, Janice Sequiera, Swara Bhaskar and Twinkle Khanna, all came out in support of Tanushree Dutta. This gives us hope for change and a world where women aren’t afraid to name and shame their harassers because they know other women will support them. The mere peace that this support brings is unmatched since it means that in this #MeToo world that further victimizes the victim, there will be people who will stand with her.
This support is extremely important, especially in this patriarchal society.
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
In our society, women are constantly pitted against each other. We are constantly comparing ourselves to other women because that is what has been ingrained into us. In schools, colleges, workplaces, social life, we are constantly at a war with other women and that has impeded the process of us banding together and made us more susceptible to being mistreated by men.
Powerful women speaking up in support of Tanushree means that women are no longer afraid if their social standing will be affected, they aren’t afraid that they’ll lose jobs or that the industry will shun them.
However, all women aren’t on the same page, when it comes to the Dutta-Patekar scenario. A few days after Tanushree Dutta came forward with the allegations, Director and Producer Farah Khan uploaded a picture with a group of people, boarding a plane.
The picture included Kriti Sanon, and Nana Patekar too. This was an outright denouncement of Tanushree’s claims. Even if we consider that Khan is being apolitical, let’s not forget that in this hyper-politicized world, being apolitical doesn’t work.
If women don’t stand up for women, if we don’t support fellow women coming forward, then what hope do we have for the future? Women have been considered false for far too long, and have had their claims denied with phrases like ‘we’ll wait for the court’s decisions’, ‘what does the law say?’. The day that women start supporting women, is the day the #MeToo movement will truly begin to succeed.
Tanushree Dutta’s claims have been backed by an assistant director on the set of Horn OK Please.
Will she get the justice she deserves? Moreover, will this be a linchpin for a more permanent form of change? With powerful names being brought to light, it’s interesting to see what this means for India and Pakistan’s media industries. Is this just the start? One can only hope so.