Anu Malik out of Indian Idol: My letter to Smriti Irani was final nail, says Sona Mohapatra

Updated: Nov 22, 2019, 08:29 IST | Shaheen Parkar, Sonia Lulla | Mumbai

Fresh wave of public outrage against #MeToo accused forces channel to drop singer from top-rated show

Sona Mohapatra and Anu Malik
Sona Mohapatra and Anu Malik

Sony Entertainment had maintained a stoic silence when it reinstated Anu Malik as one of the judges on Indian Idol 11 in September this year. Not surprisingly, the channel continued to keep mum as the music composer, who has been accused of sexual harassment by several women — including Sona Mohapatra, Shweta Pandit and Neha Bhasin — stepped down from his role yesterday

A source reveals, "Anu Malik conveyed his decision to leave the show late afternoon. On Tuesday, he shot for the episodes, which will air this weekend. The channel is looking for a replacement."

While Malik's reinstatement earlier this year had sparked a widespread outrage, the channel had paid little heed to it. His decision to call it quits is being attributed to several reasons, one of them being Mohapatra's appeal to Union Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Smriti Z Irani. When Irani stated that the government has begun listing sexual offenders in a digital database to help institutions do a data-check before hiring, Mohapatra tweeted to the minister, highlighting how Sony had continued to collaborate with Malik despite testimonies of multiple women accusing him of sexual harassment. The tweet caught the attention of National Commission of Women (NCW), which immediately shot a letter to the channel.

(From left) Shweta Pandit, Neha Bhasin and Tanushree Dutta(From left) Shweta Pandit, Neha Bhasin and Tanushree Dutta

Speaking to mid-day, Mohapatra says, "In deciding to reinstate a multiple accused sexual offender as a judge on TV, the message that was being put out was that the safety and dignity of women does not matter. It was telling other perverts in society that they too can get away with such behaviour. But this victory is for all of us to celebrate. I believe my letter to Smriti Irani was the final nail."

Bhasin, who recently slammed Malik for his open letter where he labelled the allegations as "unverified", says it's appalling that the channel gave him a platform for so long. "I wouldn't give any credit to the channel because a lot of pressure had to be put for them to reach here. It takes courage to do the right thing, and people are afraid. The whole industry knows the truth about him, and yet everyone keeps quiet."

Snapshot of Mohapatra’s letter to IraniSnapshot of Mohapatra's letter to Irani

Pandit, who called out Malik last October, tells mid-day that they will carry on the fight to encourage other survivors. "I came to the industry to become a singer; I didn't need to face this. Many women endure it, and can't speak about it [for various reasons]. So if we're speaking, why do you want to shut us down?"

Tanushree Dutta, who brought the movement to India, sees this as a positive change. "Now, I believe #MeToo will have a deeper impact than it did last year."

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