Bollywood is holding its breath for the moment, and waiting for the storm of Tanushree Dutta’s allegations to pass over. The Aashiq Banaya Aapne actor has spoken out against actor Nana Patekar, choreographer Ganesh Acharya for sexually harassing her during a film shoot, from over a decade ago. Appearing on an entertainment channel, Dutta didn’t mince words stating that Nana Patekar’s ‘behaviour’ is something that many people in the industry knew about, and were complicit in sweeping under the carpet.
Appearing on Zoom TV’s Planet Bollywood, Dutta spoke about her apparent traumatic experience on the sets of Horn OK Please – “He (Nana Patekar) was very aggressive, and was pushing me around and misbehaving with me on the set. My complaint was not heard.He also demanded to do an intimate step with me even though it was my solo dance. It was total harassment. Everyone knows about how he has always been disrespectful towards women. People in the industry know about his in the background that he has beaten actresses, he has molested them, his behaviour with women has always been crude but no publication has printed anything about it.”
Describing the events of the day, Dutta said they were shooting for a song for the film Horn Ok Please. That’s when Nana Patekar ‘coerced’ (according to Dutta) his way into the song, and made choreographer (Ganesh Acharya) change steps to the song, at the last moment. According to Dutta, Nana Patekar insisted on an ‘intimate step’, which is when Dutta stopped co-operating and locked herself inside her vanity van. According to Dutta’s account, the producers of the film let the situation escalate by calling journalists and terming the actress ‘difficult to work with’. She also accused Nana Patekar of calling members of a political party, who came and vandalised Dutta’s car.
— Janice Sequeira (@janiceseq85) September 26, 2018
Journalist Janice Sequeira has corroborated the violence from that day. In a Twitter thread and a Facebook post, Sequeira recounted how ‘goons’ appeared on the film set and broke the windshield of Dutta’s car. Sequeira met Dutta later that day, who she recounts narrating the same sequence of events, that she narrated a few days ago. According to Sequeira, actor Nana Patekar called for a press conference later that day, where she branded ‘unprofessional’.
In this 2008 report, Zee News spoke to the film’s Producer, Sami Siddiqui, where he was quoted as describing the events as – “She behaved in a completely unacceptable manner. She was informed before hand that the song is an item number, but once we began shooting she stated to object to certain dance moves that involved the dancers and the lead actor Nana Patekar to touch her, which she was not comfortable with.” This corroborates Dutta’s account that Nana Patekar kept insisting on a step, where the lead actor kept touching her inappropriately.
Since, the revelations have blown up and Dutta has appeared on numerous platforms reiterating her allegations. Apart from accusing Nana Patekar of inappropriate behaviour, Dutta has also slammed superstars like Akshay Kumar and Rajinikanth for enabling such behaviour. Patekar worked with Akshay Kumar in Welcome, and more recently in Kaala opposite Supertar Rajini.
We repeatedly tried to reach out to Nana Patekar for a comment on the matter over 24 hours, but he remained unavailable. A representative of Akshay Kumar’s expressly denied any responsibility in the matter by saying that ‘everyone has worked with Nana Patekar’.
— ANI (@ANI) September 27, 2018
Bollywood, living up to its reputation, has observed a pin-drop silence on the matter. Asked about the controversy at the Thugs of Hindostan trailer launch, Amitabh Bachchan chose a mawkish tone to wash his hands off the matter. He said, “Neither my name is Tanushree nor Nana Patekar. So, how can I answer your question?”
After last year’s #MeToo movement that took down some pretty ill-reputed personnel of Hollywood, this might be the first glimpse of women speaking up against harassment at the workplace in Bollywood. It is absolutely necessary that we listen to all the women who come out, and carefully examine their allegations.
UPDATE: Nana Patekar has responded to the allegations, by out-rightly denying them. In a snippet of a phone conversation released by Times NOW, the actor is heard saying “I have nothing to say, and she (Tanushree Dutta) can say whatever she wants. I know the truth. What do you even mean by ‘sexual harassment’?” The reporter keeps insisting how he responds to the allegations – he said he will take legal action against Tanushree Dutta.
LISTEN IN: Bollywood actor Nana Patekar speaks to TIMES NOW, threatens to sue actor Tanushree Dutta pic.twitter.com/ezH4lFiqxV
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) September 27, 2018