Bollywood director Anurag Kashyap has been accused of sexual misconduct by actress Payal Ghosh, and this has evoked extreme reactions in the Hindi film industry.
Kashyap’s colleagues, including actress Taapsee Pannu, who worked with him in the stirring romance ‘Manmarziyaan’, and National Award-winning director Hansal Mehta swear by his integrity and strong work ethic. However, actress Kangana Ranaut has openly supported Ghosh and her claims.
Many feel that Kashyap is being made a scapegoat since he voices opinions that go against popular sentiments and is vocal about being anti-establishment.
Many of his colleagues also questioned if the #MeToo movement, which first ignited in Hollywood and swept through Bollywood wherein people named and shamed sexual predators, is being misused to bring Kashyap down.
Support from ex-wife
Kashyap’s ex-wife Aarti Bajaj extended her support towards her former husband and called the allegations “a cheap stunt”.
“First wife here … You are a rockstar @AnuragKashyap10. Keep empowering women as you do and the safest place you create for all of them,” she wrote on Instagram. “I see it first hand with our daughter. There is no integrity left and the world is full of losers and no brains baying for blood of anyone who has a voice. If everybody spends the energy which they use in hating others constructively this world will be a better place.”
“First it made me angry, then I laughed so hard as it cannot come more framed than then this. I am sorry you have to go through this. That’s the level of them. You stay HIGH and keep using your voice. We love you,” she added.
Calls for arrest
On September 19, actress Ghosh took to Twitter to reveal that she was molested by Kashyap in 2014 when she was seeking work in his film.
She labelled him a demon masquerading as a creative genius and also tagged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling for the filmmaker’s arrest.
Her call for justice was immediately seconded by National Award-winning actress Ranaut.
Kashyap, in a series of tweets, denied the allegations and labelled it baseless. The industry is now divided into those who believe him and those who feel that questioning an alleged victim is wrong.
Kangana Ranaut steps in
Ranaut tweeted her support for the struggling actress and claimed that she too faced similar predicaments with unnamed Bollywood heroes.
“#MeToo has been a big failure in Bullywood, because most rapists and harassers were liberals only so they killed the movement, for sure #PayalGhosh will be humiliated and silenced like all other victims but my heart goes out to her. We deserve a better society,” said Ranaut.
“What Payal Ghosh says many big heroes have done this to me also. Suddenly flash their genitals after locking van or room door or in a party during a friendly dance on the dance floor stick his tongue in your mother, take appointment for work and come home but force himself on you,” Ranaut wrote in a series of tweets.
The actress, who has declared Bollywood as a drug-fuelled workplace, claimed that the dazzling world of Hindi films is filled with sexual predators.
‘Full of questions’
Director Hansal Mehta, whose credits include ‘Aligarh’ and ‘Shahid’, has vouched for Kashyap.
“He can be brash, he can be stupid but sexual harasser is something I don’t want to believe about him. As I write this I’m pained, troubled and full of questions for one the timing of levelling these accusations against him, then the tagging of our hon’ble PM,” tweeted Mehta.
He believes that Kashyap is being penalised for having views that go against public opinion.
“Is he making some people uncomfortable? There are so many questions and they are not necessarily about the allegations levelled against AK … Is this a witch hunt yet again? Are they trying to shut up an artist with a dissenting opinion? Where are we headed?” asked Mehta.
National Award-winning film editor and screenwriter Apurva Asrani called for the authorised people to get involved in the case.
“Which investigating body has the last word? Are the public/netizens qualified to play judge/juror as per their whims and fancies?” asked Asrani.
Phantom Films misconduct
Kashayap was one of the filmmakers who distanced himself from producer-director Vikas Bahl, with whom he cofounded production company Phantom Films in 2018.
The fallout came after Bahl was accused of sexual misconduct, which led to the disintegration of the production company helmed by four partners.
Standing by claims
Amid all the support for Kashyap, the alleged victim Ghosh has stood by her claims.
“People who are saying that it’s for politics and that I am misusing the situation. Imagine (god forbid) your sister or daughter in my position. It can even be the mother … and then let’s talk. You would go to war against such men. Isn’t it? Period,” Ghosh tweeted.
Until this weekend, Ghosh was an obscure name in Bollywood circles. Now she’s the talking point of the Hindi film industry, which has been rocked by allegations of rampant drug abuse, sexual misconduct and other dark dealings ever since the death of Sushant Singh Rajput on June 14.