In January 2019, a woman who worked with renowned Bollywood film director Raju Hirani accused him of sexually assaulting her on the sets of his 2018 film Sanju. Hirani has categorically denied these allegations. His lawyer Anand Desai termed the allegations "false, mischievous, scandalous, motivated and defamatory". Many Bollywood celebrities have come out in support of Hirani, describing him as 'polite', 'most decent' personality
How the MeToo movement took off in India
In September 2018, in an interview with a TV channel, Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta accused veteran actor Nana Patekar of sexual misconduct during the shooting of Horn OK Pleassss in 2008. Tanushree in her statement said, "Everyone knows about Nana Patekar that he has always been disrespectful towards women. People in the industry know about his 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." Nana denied the allegations and said he was falsely accused of sexual harassment. He described Tanushree's claims as a 'lie'.
Tanushree Dutta also spoke about how the veteran actor misbehaved with her, and back then would grab her and push her around on the set of Horn Ok Pleaseeeee. She also called out producer Sami Siddiqui, director Rakesh Sarang and choreographer Ganesh Acharya for their inaction after she voiced her concern, leading to her opting out of the song. Her allegations didn't go well with the with the director of the movie. Speaking to mid-day, Rakesh Sarang claimed that his advice to Tanushree Dutta would be "to move ahead". He felt she is "probably creating a controversy because she may want to make a comeback". Tanushree is currently back in the U.S. and hopes for positive news on the case.
Post Tanushree Dutta's allegations on veteran actor Nana Patekar, India's #MeToo movement gained momentum when several women, including minors, publicly accused former AIB stand-up comedian Utsav Chakraborty of allegedly sexually harassing them through social media. It all started earlier last week when a woman responded to Chakraborty's tweet about Indian men harassing women on a cruise by describing how he had harassed her by sending her 'unsolicited d*** pics' and much more. Multiple women came out on Twitter against Chakraborty and revealed how the AIB comedian 'slid into their DMs' without any prior contact and asked them to send nudes
Utsav Chakraborty took to Twitter, posting a series of 25-odd tweets, owning up and saying, "from all accounts, I've been a piece of shit." "To me, getting nudes from a person was an instant rush. I was not in pain for that brief moment," he wrote, referring to a disease he has been suffering from. During the course of the whole harassment issue coming up, AIB issued a statement condemning Utsav's alleged misdemeanour
AIB co-founder and comedian Tanmay Bhat too stepped down from his post once the allegation of sexual harassment came in the limelight. Tanmay came under attack for both his inaction on the complaints against writer-comedian Utsav Chakraborty and for allegedly sending inappropriate messages to women. A statement released by the AIB group said, "We have been closely monitoring the sequence of events on social media around the allegations against AIB and also against our co-founder and CEO, Tanmay Bhat. We cannot overlook Tanmay's role..."
Another interesting development that came up post the sexual harassment allegations was that popular comedian and co-founder of AIB, Gursimran Khamba was sent on leave amid allegations of sexual harassment against him. Khamba was allegedly accused of sexual misconduct; all of these allegations against the members of AIB comedy collective led to digital entertainment platform Hotstar cancelling the production of AIBs online show 'On Air with AIB'
Singer Kailash Kher was allegedly accused of sexual harassment and inappropriately behaving with a woman reporter in October 2018. The singer had refrained from commenting on the controversy surrounding Tanushree Dutta and veteran actor Nana Patekar and dubbed the issue as 'meaningless'
Kailash Kher was also allegedly accused by another woman of asking for her personal contact and repeatedly inviting her to his hotel room in Kolkata. The woman tweeted, "I was sent with my colleague, a woman journalist, to take pictures of Kailash Kher at his home for an interview. During the interview, this creep sat between us as close to us as he could. He also kept putting his hands on our thighs (on the skin above our skirts)." Commenting on the allegations that have surfaced against him Kher offered an apology for the same and said; he regrets any unintentional behaviour on his part that may have made the complainant uncomfortable
Vinta Nanda, a veteran writer-producer of the avant-garde 1990s show "Tara" fame, had allegedly accused actor Alok Nath who is well known for his "sanskaari" on-screen image - of sexually violating her almost two decades ago. "I have waited for this moment to come for 19 years," Nanda wrote in a long, heart-wrenching Facebook post. She further added, ""He was an alcoholic, shameless and obnoxious but he was also the television star of that decade, so not only was he forgiven for all his bad behaviour, many of the guys would also egg him on to be his worst," Nanda wrote, adding that he even harassed the show's lead actress who was not interested in him. Sharing the "worst" that happened, Nanda recounted the incidents that followed after she left a party at Alok's house at 2 a.m. She said that her drinks were mixed
Alok Nath denied the allegations that have surfaced against him. He said that the allegation is 'absurd' as he 'made her what she is'. Alok told a news channel that "Kuch to log kahenge (People will say something). Neither I am denying this nor do I agree with it. It (rape) must have happened, but someone else would have done it. Well, I do not want to talk much about it. As for the matter, if it has come out, it will be stretched. "However, we only have to hear to women's stand because they are considered weak." On January 9, 2019, the sessions court observed that the rape case against Alok Nath was lodged on the basis of a "defamatory" and "false" report of complainant Vinta Nanda
'Queen' director Vikas Bahl was allegedly accused of sexual harassment by a former employee of Phantom Films. Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut took the employee's side and said, "I agree with her [the girl who was sexually assaulted by Bahl and to whom Anurag Kashyap apologised for failing]. Even though Vikas was married when we were filming Queen, he bragged about having casual sex with a new partner every other day."
In light of these allegations against Vikas Bahl, the National Award-winning filmmaker was dropped from a series that he was to supposed to direct for Amazon Prime
India's best selling author Chetan Bhagat on October 7, 2018, apologised through his Facebook post after a tweet sharing his alleged WhatsApp conversation with a woman journalist. He was allegedly accused of sexual harassment and the screenshots of the personal chat went viral on social media. In a Facebook post, Chetan Bhagat said that said he wanted "to make a couple of points about the screenshots that someone has shared" in reference to the chat where the writer is seeing to be 'wooing' a woman journalist through a personal chat via social messaging app Whatsapp
While addressing the apology Chetan Bhagat wrote, "I am really sorry to person concerned. The screenshots are of course real, and I am sorry if you felt they were wrong I hope you will accept my apology." Screenshots of Bhagat 'wooing' a woman journalist on WhatsApp appeared on social media in connection to the ongoing #MeToo movement. Confirming the same, Chetan said, "These screenshots are several years old, and I had met the person in question a couple of times. We hit it off really well as a friendship, and as I say in the screenshots, I did feel a strong connection with her. I did find her a good human being, sweet, cute and funny (as I also say in the screenshots)."
Actor, writer and director Rajat Kapoor was allegedly accused of sexual misconduct by two women on Twitter. A journalist revealed that the actor had misbehaved with her during a telephonic interview, asking her about her vital stats. Another woman stated that the actor had hounded her with phone calls and made her uncomfortable with his demand of shooting a film with her "in an empty house." In his defence, Rajat Kapoor issued an apology saying that he has always tried to be a decent man but now he will try harder
Comedian Kanan Gill was allegedly accused of inappropriate behaviour by a Twitter user, who, in a series of tweets, recounted an incident from 2014, when Kanan's actions made her uncomfortable. The Twitter user said that she had been a part of a whisper network for long where she had spoken about the alleged incident with a number of close associates. The user tweeted, "With all this outing happening right now, am actually really surprised nobody has mentioned Kanan Gill. He was drunk and behaved inappropriately with me & a couple of friends at a mixer a few years ago. We then kept distance, but his actions seemed to suggest a pattern of behaviour."
When the allegations of sexual harassment came against him, Kanan Gill issued an apology on social media, stating that he did intend to make the accuser uncomfortable. To this, the user said that she accepted the apology and did not intend to take it further
Veteran director Subhash Ghai was another Bollywood personality accused of rape in the wake of the #MeToo movement after an anonymous woman alleged that he spiked her drink and sexually assaulted her. A post of the incident was shared by writer Mahima Kukreja, who had earlier accused comedian Utsav Chakraborty of sexual harassment. Ghai suffered another blow when Kate Sharma an aspiring actress also accused him of sexual harassment and filed a police complaint at Versova police station. She said that the incident took place in 2003 when she was in talks with Ghai for the remake of Bollywood film Aitraaz
The #MeToo movement has thrown down the gauntlet to the very top of the media industry as well as the central government, as allegations of sexual harassment surfaced against M J Akbar, a renowned former editor and ex-Minister of State for External Affairs. Women journalists and writers spoke out against Akbar, alleging that he would call them to his hotel room at night for interviews, or sometimes turn up at their homes uninvited. The floodgates opened after a senior journalist revealed that Akbar was the subject of 'To the Harvey Weinsteins of the world', an article she had written in 2017. Akbar denied the allegation and filed a defamation case against the journalist. However, Akbar still had to step down as Union Minister
Thee #MeToo movement continued to expose Bollywood's underbelly of sexual misconduct. Another actor spoke out saying she was allegedly asked in 2010 by Pyaar Ka Punchnama director Luv Ranjan to strip down to her underwear during an audition for the movie. She'd left the audition after mentioning she wasn't comfortable doing so. But another uncomfortable conversation with Ranjan followed, where apparently he asked her if she masturbates. She ended up pulling out of the film, a decision that was met with several messages from Ranjan telling her she'd 'misunderstood' him. The actor came out with her story in mid-day.
When mid-day reached out to Ranjan regarding the allegations, he said, "It's absurd. It's so absurd that I don't know what to say except that I deny it. I don't know how to react to an anonymous allegation beyond this and am willing to face any legitimate enquiry." Nothing has surfaced since.
The #MeToo campaign continues to gather momentum in India with more prominent personalities being accused of sexual harassment. Bollywood filmmaker Raju Hirani is the latest celebrity to be accused of sexual assault. Veteran Bollywood director Subhash Ghai, Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs M. J. Akbar and filmmaker Luv Ranjan, are some of the other prominent personalities who are facing sexual harassment charges. Here's a list of famous high-profile men who have been accused of sexual assault
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