Actor Nana Patekar on Thursday dismissed an accusation of sexual harassment by actress Tanushree Dutta.
“What can I do about what one says? You tell me. What does it mean by sexual harassment?” Patekar told Mirror Now in his first response since the allegations reemerged this week a decade after Dutta first spoke out about it.
Dutta recently spoke about her experience working with the actor in the film Horn Ok Pleassss in an interview.
“We were on the set and there were 200 people sitting in front of us. What I can say?” Patekar said.
Asked if he will take any legal action, he said: “I will see what can be done legally. Let’s see. It is also wrong/inappropriate to talk to you [media] since you publish anything.”
On the allegation that there’s a different face to the Indian National Award-winning actor, Patekar said: “Let anyone say anything. I will continue to do in my life what I have been doing.”
Dutta’s allegation is being seen as one that will likely kickstart Bollywood’s own #MeToo movement.
She has hit out at Patekar and named choreographer Ganesh Acharya, director Rakesh Sarang and producer Sami Siddiqui as accomplices in the harassment she faced.
In 2008, at a press conference to address the “indecent behaviour” allegation by Dutta, Patekar had said he was surprised at the charges by the actress, who he said was “my daughter’s age”.
The former beauty queen has said her voice was suppressed back then by Patekar’s powerful position.
Strong reactions from Bollywood are yet to emerge on the controversy.
Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan on Thursday dodged a question about the news, steering clear from the row.
At a film’s trailer launch, a journalist asked Bachchan and actor Aamir Khan to share their views.
“Neither is my name Tanushree, nor is it Nana Patekar. How do I answer this question?” Bachchan replied in Hindi.
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.”
Actress Shruti Seth hopes Dutta’s revelation “is the beginning of the end of sexual harassment in Bollywood”.
“I hope more women find courage to call out their perpetrators. Bravo,” she added.
Dutta 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,” Dutta 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.