Mumbai (IANS): Days after actress Tanushree Dutta’s sexual harassment allegations against veteran actor Nana Patekar created a whirlwind, a gamut of stars like Priyanka Chopra, Farhan Akhtar, Vir Das and Anurag Kashyap have spoken out strongly in support of the former beauty queen and a safer working environment for women.
Tanushree had first raised the allegation against the actor in 2008. She brought the spotlight once again on her unpleasant experience of working with Nana during the shooting of “Horn ‘Ok’ Pleassss”, in a recent interview.
Nana, 67, on Thursday denied all allegations and said: “What can I do about what one says? You tell me. What does it mean by sexual harassment.”
While veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan on Thursday chose to steer clear from commenting on the controversy, drawing flak from the social media world, a string of celebrities on Friday raised their voice.
Here’s what they wrote:
Priyanka Chopra: The world needs to believe survivors.
Farhan Akhtar, who has launched a social campaign Men Against Rape and Discrimination or MARD in 2013, re-tweeted a string of posts by an eyewitness about the details of Tanushree’s ordeal.
“This thread is very telling. Janice (Janice Sequeira, who at that time was with a news channel) was there at the time of the incident being debated today. Even when Tanushree Dutta had career concerns to keep quiet 10 years ago, she did not. And her story has not changed now. Her courage should be admired, not her intention questioned,” Farhan said.
Actress Richa Chadha wrote: “It hurts to be Tanushree Dutta right now. 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 did not back down — (that) takes a special courage to be Tanushree Dutta.”
Filmmaker Hansal Mehta tweeted: “India in general does not have a conducive work environment. Mental harassment, abuse and predatorial behaviour by people in positions of power are prevalent and considered perks of being in power. Years of oppression and colonial rule have permanently altered our DNA.”
Several celebrities reference Sequeira’s Twitter thread in which she recalled the incident as a cub reporter in Mumbai a decade ago.
“Some incidents that take place even a decade ago remain fresh in your memory. What happened with Tanushree is one such incident,” she wrote, before narrating her side of the story.
Actress Swara Bhasker shared her post, and wrote: “This is a long thread, but one that must be read…. lots of clues here as to why Bollywood’s #MeToo moment is so far away. Because we don’t want to hear these voices.”
Producer-author Twinkle Khanna also shared Sequeira’s posts and tweeted: “Please read this thread before judging or shaming Tanushree Dutta — 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!”
Actress Parineeti Chopra wrote: “Survivors are survivors because they have dealt with something and come out on the other side. So believe them, respect them.”
Urging Twitterati to read Sequeira’s thread, Konkona Sensharma wrote: “We all know the reality of the power imbalance that exists in the workplace. Let us encourage these voices instead of shaming them so that others may have the strength to come forward.”
Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap has also raised his voice and said “people should stop the questioning of intention of Tanushree Dutta because there is a witness account of what happened”.
Comedian-actor Vir Das wrote: “For men, a big part of the #MeToo movement is listening to women tell their story. Supporting them with belief. Tanushree Dutta is telling hers. Be a good man, shut your mouth, and listen to it. There are many many more like it in our industry. And they deserve to be heard.
“An actor’s professional choices should not dictate how they get treated in the work place. All work places must be safe and fair. If you’re bringing up an actor’s filmography to justify the harassment they faced…. You are a piece of sh*t,” he added.