Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap on Wednesday said he has decided to step back as a board member of the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (Mami) amid a “shadow of doubt” that he remained silent when a woman complained to him of being sexually harassed by his business partner Vikas Bahl.
Kashyap and Motwane last week came out in support of an unidentified woman who has accused Bahl of sexually harassing her in 2015 in Goa. Bahl has sent legal notices to both of them for making “baseless” statements out of “personal vendetta”.
Kashyap, who along with his business partners at Phantom Films announced the company’s dissolution last week, has been at the receiving end of questions as to why he did not do anything about the complaint.
In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Kashyap wrote: “In the light of the current events, I have decided to step back from my duties as a board member from Mami until the shadow of doubt of our alleged complicitness in silence and not doing anything about it, is cleared. On the other hand, I vehemently deny to have stayed silent on the issue and not doing anything about it for years. Can’t explain further to people who don’t understand due process, legalities. Have been resilient through all accusations. Keep flinging them my way.”
He says the “accused”, in this case Bahl, was named and shamed a long time back.
“A lot of women work with me and have been around. I am answerable to them and they stand witness to our actions and our struggle to do the right thing. Let the purging continue... it’s as good a time as any for all of us to introspect, look into ourselves and see how we all have been complicit in so much, with our silence, forced by fear of consequence or by choice,” he wrote.
“In more than a year, I have questioned myself a lot, reflected on every single date I went to, every interaction of mine with the opposite sex, every encounter all that I could recall.
“And my greatest and simplest learning is that the line of consent is not just defined by ‘No’. Most times it’s before that ‘No’ is uttered. And the line of consent depends on the person that owns the consent. It varies from person to person,” he added.
Kashyap believes it’s all about conditioning. “My mind has been restless over many day/nights and the more I read everyone’s accounts, it keeps adding to it. I feel like just apologising for being a man. I used to feel I have come a long way from growing up in a small town and today I feel like somehow I am still there.
“There is so much I really don’t see and also see others around me pretending to see and I feel ‘inko bhi kahan dikhta hai (where do even they see it?’).”
He says he has been lucky to have had women who “slapped” him from time to time “to turn that boy who at 18 told the girl in his class ‘ladkiyon ko yeh nahin karna chahiye [girls shouldn’t do this]’ to whoever I have become today. But I also wonder why and when did they stop slapping me and thought it’s enough. It isn’t.”