With revelations of sexual misdemeanours tumbling out of Bollywood’s closet, actors find themselves targeted by moralists. Akshay Kumar gets trolled for shooting with Nana Patekar in Housefull 4 while Hrithik Roshan is being questioned for working with Vikas Bahl. The chilling account  of  a victim of sexual assault published  in  Huffington Post names and shames Queen director Vikas Bahl. But  former associates and ex-friends of Bahl (I am afraid that’s all he has left now) says this revelation  that actually  erupted two  years ago and was duly hushed  up by Bahl’s partners,  is just  the  tip of  the iceberg.

Now that Vikas’s power-packed peccadilloes in the province of perversities are out  in the open, what happens to Super 30, the film on the life of Bihar’s iconic mathematician  Anand  Kumar that Vikas Bahl is directing for Phantom ? While Hrithik Roshan  as expected, chose to remained silent on the issue when questioned, Aanand Kumar protested his  ignorance  on Bahl’s background. “I  don’t watch that many films. But I had seen  Vikas’ Queen and liked it. I readily agreed to the film on my life being directed by him. Earlier it was to be  directed by  Anurag Basu and I  liked his Barfi too, so I had agreed. Beyond this, I know nothing about what  is going on.”

While it is easy to accept Anand’s rationale,  as  he is far removed  from the Mumbai film industry, Hrithik Roshan cannot absolve himself  of the murky charge  of working with a sexual predator who is now known as Bollywood’s  Harvey Weinstein.  Hrithik  cried  himself  hoarse  over  being harassed for two years (by the same actress who worked in Bahl’s Queen and now, on the eve of the release of her new historical drama, claims he behaved  inappropriately with her as well). Even if Hrithik was unaware earlier of Bahl’s randy reputation he’s aware  of it now.

Will Hrithik continue working in Super 30 oblivious of  the grave charges being faced by the  director? In Hollywood the high-profile alleged sexual offenders Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and  Woody Allen have all been blacklisted by all the major stars. Is Hrithik  going to blissfully continue working with  an acknowledged sexual offender? Director  Kabir Khan and Ranveer Singh who are doing a sports film 1983 for Phantom, would also have to do some serious re-thinking.

Filmmaker Hansal Mehta who condemned  Bahl in the strongest  words on twitter has  had to shut down activity on  his twitter account. “After I spoke out against Vikas Bahl, Hrithik’s and Kangana’s fans started trolling me. How is that  going to help? Don’t shoot the messenger. The problem  of  sexual harassment goes  much deeper. Why is  the entertainment  industry not empowered to protect women against sexual harassment? The Vishakha Guidelines clearly state that every workplace for women must have the telephone numbers  of the Vishakha helpline as close to the  entrance  of the office as  possible. How many production houses and  film sets  actually have those phone numbers handy? Where do  women in the film industry  go after they are harassed? It has taken Tanushree Dutta ten years and the Vikas Bahl’s victim  two years  to speak up. But will things change for women in the film industry? Can they feel safe?”

As far as  the allegations against Nana Patekar are concerned they are  yet to be proven. However a filmmaker who has directed him says how he talks to women about women. “He uses language that  is very embarrassing. But he doesn’t see his  tone and content  as offensive.” This, says Tanushree Dutta, is the problem. “For decades men in the  Indian film industry have behaved crudely and inappropriately. Pushing, heckling, sneering were earlier considered harmless behaviour.”

Today you will find it had  to  get away with a ‘Darling’or a ‘Are  you free tonight?’ without  repercussions.




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