Tanushree’s #MeToo moment did inappropriately touch predators’ nerves

The Nobel Peace prize 2018 announcement on Friday for Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad who worked towards ending sexual violence has been reassuring to say the least for all those women who have faced sexual abuse during wartimes. It also reiterated faith on the world system that recognizes the gravity of the crime and people who become catalysts to change the ‘normal’ order. An opportune reason why Tanushree Dutta strikes to mind being in news for stirring a storm in tea cup by raising voice against sexual harassment she faced maybe not at wartime but on a film set. Whether violence or harassment, the molten angst within her erupted after a decade and she decided to speak up. But strangely, despite her immediate resistance and registration of a complaint soon after the incident of 2008, her words now have swirled up as a tacit attempt by the ex-model to gain publicity.

Anyone questioning her as to why did she time her allegations after 10 years of the incident, her answer should be “why not?” For an actor-model who despite having 30 to 40 offers in 2008, chose to step away from the industry was definitely not a flimsy issue. There was more to the threats and aftermath of she walking away from the sets of ‘Horn Ok Pleassss’ and industry, than meets the eye. Neither should any sane person feel her opening up as an indication to come back to the industry when she is perched comfortably on an alternative career. In any case, choosing the time to speak out about a wrong done to her is absolutely perfect.

The divulging of details in this case has certainly shaken some but given that many actresses are doing a #MeToo and #IBelieveYou, it would certainly ring an alarm bell for the predators who move in the industry and outside. It would also rein in those who have gone scot-free after outraging the modesty of many since years. Why else was #MeToo a success in the West even though the allegations leveled against Harvey Weinstein happened years back. It needs one bold voice to shake others from their self-guilt of keeping shut for the fear of retribution or being tagged as a ‘slut.’ Like the #MeToo aiming at empowerment through empathy, a Tanushree Dutta must have given many others strength to speak out and it has. Even Japan is witnessing a WeToo campaign on the same issue of women speaking out against sexual abuse and harassment.

The string of allegations against Utsav Chakraborty, then a member of comic group All India Bakchod (AIB), of sending a woman objectionable photos and messages, is just the beginning. But since the  allegations were backed by several others, AIB issued an apology and announced that Chakraborty was no longer a part of AIB.

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How about the latest accusations against Brett Kavanaugh that triggered a hashtag movement across the world last week with none other than Donald Trump talking in support of the accused?  Still, Tuesday night, Trump said “Women who come forward against powerful men can be mocked and disregarded. Their pain is not important in the face of a powerful man’s ambition. This is what will happen when they tell their stories,” reported Vox.

The so called who’s who of Bollywood fraternity made the issue similarly murkier by issuing weird statements – hopefully they are not doing a Trump.

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Our own media houses like CNN News18, Times Now and the Quint have already exposed the real faces of many in question in this particular matter. Samee Siddiqui, the producer of ‘Horn Ok Pleassss’, in a sting  operation was heard and seen saying “I feel that day she (Tanushree) was on her periods which is why she reacted to a mild touch.” Sick! Isn’t it? And the director Rakesh Sarang stated it all as false!

Here’s a tweet of TIMES NOW on what Samee Siddiqui said:

Listen to what director Rakesh Sarang said to CNN News18 on the allegations leveled by Tanushree:

Just because Nana Patekar has done some powerful roles and social work doesn’t bail him out of the accusations. The day the incident happened, a video footage was recorded and that has now emerged on social media making it clear as to how Tanushree and her parents were heckled inside a car, their vehicle damaged and tires deflated by goons because she refused to say yes to a sudden inclusion of a close-up scene with Nana. Goons, who Tanushree claims are the same people from Maharashtra Navnirman Sena who have now raised a hue and cry against her accusations.

Here’s the viral video of the attack on Tanushree’s car posted by ETimes:

The former head of CINTAA (Cine and TV Artistes’ Association) Gajendra Chauhan has also told Times Now recently that he had received a complaint and advised Tanushree to file an FIR. Now what does Annu Kapoor mean by ‘show evidence’? I hope he has not lost sanity to suggest that the victim should start recording her own harassment!

In fact, two other women present there on the sets, a journalist Janice Sequeira and a crew member Shyni Shetty had on the first day corroborated the allegations.

Janice wrote a thread of tweets after Tanushree opened up about the incident and one of it read, “For anyone who’s either going to be ignoring or downplaying Dutta’s account as a desperate call for attention and question why she didn’t speak out earlier – she did. Interviews by Dutta were followed by a press conference by #NanaPatekar where she was branded ‘unprofessional’. This was a decade ago. It could have possibly been the first instance of a Bollywood actress calling out sexual predators, and her voice was silenced by more powerful men who continued to have flourishing careers. Now she’s found her voice again. Shouldn’t we listen?”

Tanushree Nana Patekar

Tanushree Nana

True that Tanushree has lost more than gained in this whole episode.  But the writing has become clearer – powerful people should stop protecting powerful predators because you are also being watched, talked about. This means #MeToo has made a difference. Recognizing sexual harassment or violence or abuse was long overdue. Its #BelieveSurvivors and #TimesUp.

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