Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan dodged a question on Thursday about actress Tanushree Dutta's sexual harassment allegations against veteran actor Nana Patekar - which is likely to kickstart Bollywood's own #MeToo movement. At a film's trailer launch, a reporter asked Bachchan and superstar Aamir Khan to share their views on the news.
Bachchan steered clear from the controversy by saying: "Naa toh mera naam Tanushree hai, naa hee Nana Patekar. Kaise uttar dun aapko iss sawaal ka? (Neither is my name Tanushree, nor is it Nana Patekar. How do I answer this question?)"
Khan said: "Without knowing the veracity of something or the details of something, I don't think I can comment. It is not right for me. But I would like to say that whenever something like this does happen, it's really sad. Now if it has happened or not it is for people to investigate."
Tanushree, who had first raised the allegation against Nana in 2008, brought the spotlight once again on her unsavoury experience of working with the actor in the film Horn 'Ok' Pleassss in a recent interview.
Tanushree said it was because of Nana's powerful position as a national award winning actor that her voice had got suppressed back then. "In our country, actresses are perceived by their on-screen image mostly. It was no different for me back then since I made my debut in Bollywood with a film like Aashiq Banaya Aapne that required me to do bold scenes. Since he was a veteran national award-winning actor with so-called respect and popularity, repressing my voice was the easiest thing. So he did that. But, winning a ationaln award does not make him a good human being," Tanushree said. She said her on-screen image gave people the perception that "I am available".
"When the line was crossed and I put my foot down, I was mobbed, my family was harassed, and my voice was repressed," she added.
Tanushree hopes her story gives "girls a sense of confidence to come out with their story if they are suffering".
"Back then, the mainstream media did not pursue the story as actively as it is happening in the present day. Now, it is the right time for all the victims to share their story," Tanushree said.
Actress Shruti Seth hopes Tanushree's moment of stepping out and naming and shaming "is the beginning of the end of sexual harassment in Bollywood". "I hope more women find courage to call out their perpetrators. Bravo," she said.
While a string of Bollywood celebrities, including filmmakers and actors have called out casting couch and sexual harassment in the industry, naming and shaming is yet to become a reality, even as Hollywood counterparts have remained outspoken ever since mass allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein came to light.