Showbiz's abusers remain sheltered

Bollywood wants to expose the Harvey Weinsteins but doesn't want to name them.

Harvey Weinsteins of Bollywood can heave a sigh of relief, as long as moderately powerful people in Bollywood are not bold enough. Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, who has made films like Chocolate, Buddha In A Traffic Jam, and Hate Story among others, sent the Twitteratti into a tizzy, making them play the guessing game with a tweet.

He alleged that a B-town middleman of a top star and director molested his nephew. He wrote, “One of my nephews came from US to try his luck in Bollywood. Introduced him to the middleman of India’s top star & Producer/director. He was promptly invited where he was propositioned, molested & sexually exploited by the most powerful. Left India forever (sic).”

However, Vivek further refused to talk about the story or name and shame anyone, saying it was in “some other context”.

Incidentally, one of Vivek’s nephews who came from the US acted in a Karan Johar produced film called I Hate Luv Storys, starring Imran Khan and Sonam Kapoor, apart from Vivek’s film Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal.

In a similar case of a powerful movie personality abusing his position, singer Papon was in the eye of the storm last month. He was caught molesting a minor girl — who was reportedly also his student — on camera, during a Facebook Live video for a reality television show’s Holi special. When fellow performer Monali Thakur rushed to support Papon, she was slammed for supporting the musician.

Allegations and instances of the casting couch have always been a topic of discussion. Actress Ileana D’Cruz, on her part, believes that biggies aren’t publicly named since they have a massive fan following, which could prevent the public from believing the victim.

“I think in India, to some extend, a lot of actors are worshipped. So if they have a massive image, it is not easy to take them down. The fans can’t imagine their stars in a different light. Also, the family of the victim too is affected. People would rather believe that something is wrong with the girl. It’s easy to point at no one than to point at someone who is powerful,” explains the actress.

Ileana may be right, because when starlet Preeti Jaiin pointed fingers at filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar accusing him of rape, the case was quashed later. The belief in the victim would not just need credence but proof as well. Perhaps this is why many aspiring stars still don’t name anyone.

“I just think you need many more voices for similar cases to come forward, since women feel that no one would support them if they were to drop names,” says Ileana.

We still await Vivek’s half of the story.
—Inputs from Uma Ramasubramanian and Sanskriti Media

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