Thu, Oct 11, 2018 - Page 6 News List

MeToo comes to Bollywood after actor shares trauma

Bloomberg

Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta poses for a photograph after talking to reporters in Mumbai, India, on Sept. 27.

Photo: Reuters

Almost a year to the day after the MeToo movement upended Hollywood, it has arrived in the world’s biggest film industry, Bollywood, and is spreading through India.

In the past few weeks, a decade-old sexual misconduct allegation against a popular male movie star in the Hindi film industry has been reported to police and a production house that partnered with Netflix on its first local hit has been dissolved amid allegations against a founder.

The chief executive of a pioneering comedy troupe has also resigned after it admitted that he failed to take action when an employee was accused of sending lewd photographs to women.

Twitter is being flooded with allegations of inappropriate behavior by prominent men in India.

The outpouring comes as the country grapples with a mass exodus of women from the workforce for a variety of reasons: Nearly 20 million women dropped out of the labor market from 2004 to 2005 and from 2011 to 2012, according to a World Bank report.

“The whole culture of silence and shame has existed not just in Bollywood, but in Indian society as a whole,” said actor Tanushree Dutta, who alleged last month that she was sexually harassed on a movie set in 2008. “I was just speaking the same truths that I have been speaking for the last 10 years. Ten years ago there weren’t any takers.”

TWITTER STORM

Dutta has said that she was allegedly sexually harassed by actor Nana Patekar on a movie set, where her complaints were ignored.

The actor has spoken publicly about the incident before. Yet, in the wake of the MeToo movement, her interview set off a Twitter storm of support and criticism, as well as accusations against other actors, directors, comedians and editors.

Patekar has denied the allegation, according to newspaper reports, and said that he made the same denial 10 years ago.

He canceled a news conference on the issue, and said in a televised statement that he had been advised against speaking to the media.

His lawyer has sent a legal notice to Dutta asking her to apologize or face further action, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, a partner at Phantom Films, which produced the Sacred Games series for Netflix, announced that the company was being dissolved after the Huffington Post sought a response to allegations against Vikas Bahl, another partner.

Bahl is said to have allegedly sexually assaulted a crew member in her hotel room in 2015.

When asked what the dissolution would mean for the second season of Sacred Games, a Netflix spokeswoman said by e-mail: “We are evaluating options on the path forward.”

Bahl denied the allegation when it was previously reported last year by the Mumbai Mirror.

The newspaper yesterday reported that Bahl had sent legal notices to two Phantom Films partners accusing them of orchestrating a campaign against him.

He did not respond to a text message seeking comment.

In a few short weeks, MeToo has spread from the entertainment to the news business.

A number of women journalists wrote to media conglomerate Bennett Coleman & Co — which publishes the country’s largest English newspaper, the Times of India — asking that action be taken against K.R. Sreenivas, an editor overseeing one of the newspaper’s editions in southern India.

They accused him of sending lewd texts, inappropriately touching colleagues and obstructing their careers if they resisted.

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