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Is 'sexual abuse at work' a sidelined topic in Bollywood?

Tehelka’s founder and editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal has been grabbing headlines himself for sexually exploiting a junior colleague. Though the happenings over the last few days may sound right out of a film’s script, there are not too many Bollywood films that have dealt with the subject of sexual harassment at the workplace.

Chitrangada Singh and Arjun Rampal in 'Inkaar'
Chitrangada Singh and Arjun Rampal in 'Inkaar'

Several Hindi potboilers may have had the boss having a fling with the secretary, but it is all treated at the superficial level that takes on lust just for that added thrill in the script.

Priyanka Chopra and Akshay Kumar in 'Aitraaz'
Priyanka Chopra and Akshay Kumar in 'Aitraaz'

In most Hindi films revolving around workplace issues, what is shown is that the female character is vulnerable and prone to emotional outbursts. Flirting is considered natural when men and women spend several hours together at work, but there is a thin line between camaraderie and harassment.

Sudhir Mishra’s film Inkaar starring Arjun Rampal and Chitrangada Singh which released earlier this year, dealt with sexual harassment in an ad agency. The CEO of an advertising company is slapped with a lawsuit of sexual harassment filed by his protégé. A committee is set up by the agency to hear both sides of the story and work through lies and accusations to find out the truth.

Abbas Mustan’s 2004 film Aitraaz starring Akshay Kumar, Priyanka Chopra and Kareena Kapoor was inspired by the Hollywood film Disclosure which tells the story of a man accused of sexual harassment by his female superior. Chopra received critical acclaim for her role as an ambitious woman who accuses an employee of sexual harassment.  

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