Bollywood stars can act, but not react!


Entertainment, Bollywood

When serious issues come to light, the otherwise over-expressive film industry chooses to stay mum.

Farah Khan and Sajid Khan

While Bollywood stars can’t keep from flooding our social media feeds with promotions and updates from their latest shoots, when something truly attention-worthy comes up, their failure to respond makes them conspicuous.

Take, for example, the allegations made by Tanushree Dutta about Nana Patekar. For days, we didn’t hear any of the leading stars of today broach the topic out of choice. Meanwhile, they continued to post pictures from their outdoor schedules.

“It was rather strange that when Tanushree spoke about being sexually harassed, Farah Khan posted a picture of Nana Patekar joining the Housefull 4 team. And even though Twinkle did ask Bollywood to stand by Tanushree, Akshay Kumar did not react. He only leapt into action when the allegations against Sajid Khan came up,” a Bollywood observer says.

Tanushree Dutta

Farah Khan has also reacted only after her brother has been called a sex-pest by a series of women, including a journalist. And Suniel Shetty, who, according to Tanushree, stood up for her when she was harassed by Nana 10 years ago, has not made any comment now that the incident has come to light.

A member of The Producers Guild of India reveals that the existence of sexual predators has been an open secret in the film industry for quite a while. “Everyone in the industry knows about them, and until now the issue has been dismissed due to the absence of combined action. Now, with the power of social media growing by the day, even unknown faces are getting a voice and their stories are coming out. It is good that unions like CINTAA and The Producers Guild are reacting strongly because action needs to be taken. Hopefully, they will do more, now that internal laws banning perverts are in place,” he says.

And while filmmakers have been busy covering their own backs, women have continued to suffer at the hands of these predators. When actress Chitrangada Singh walked out of the Babumoshai Bandookbaaz claiming to have had trouble with co-star Nawazuddin Siddiqui and director Kushan Nandy, she was replaced by Bidita Bag, and Bollywood dismissed the entire incident as a mere rumour, even though the actress firmly said otherwise.

In 2011, actress Sayali Bhagat made similar allegations against Amitabh Bachchan, Sajid Khan and Shiney Ahuja, but she ended up withdrawing her statements, much like Mamta Kulkarni, who was forced to eat her words after making allegations against Rajkumar Santoshi during the shoot of China Gate in 1998.

A leading producer defends the industry’s delayed reaction to what’s been a long-standing problem, saying, “Even women like Tanushree and Vinta Nanda have taken years to express the injustice done to them. They have only started speaking about it after #MeToo has come up. Give Bollywood stars at some time to react; don’t make them soft targets. I am sure they will react quicker the next time something like this happens.”

Meanwhile, the Cine And TV Artistes’ Association (CINTAA) and the Producers Guild have promised to take strong action against members of the industry who have been called out for sexual harassment, including Nana Patekar, Subhash Kapoor, Sajid Khan and Alok Nath. “There are still some associations that are not getting their members to adhere to the norms because they are busy fighting for control rather than looking after members’ interests,” a leading trade analyst points out.

—Sanskriti Media