In what can be perceived as a bold move to name and shame sexual predators in Bollywood, actress and former Miss India Tanushree Dutta on Tuesday accused actor Nana Patekar of sexual misconduct on the sets of 2009 film Horn Ok Pleassss.
At that time, Dutta had spoken out against Patekar for making inappropriate advances during the shoot of a song, a project that she eventually dropped out of.
This revelation could put the wheels of the #MeToo movement in action in India, which hasn’t gathered much momentum in Bollywood because actresses have shied away from speaking out about the industry’s underbelly.
But Dutta, who was last seen on the big screen in 2010, didn’t hold back.
“Everyone knows about Nana Patekar... that he has always been disrespectful towards women. People in the industry know about his background, that he has beaten actresses, he has molested them, his behaviour with women has always been crude but no publication has printed anything about it,” said Dutta in an interview in Hindi with Zoom TV.
Patekar is yet to comment on Dutta’s allegations.
However in 2008, when Dutta accused him of sexual misconduct, he denied her claims at a press conference.
“At that time when I accused Nana Patekar of sexual misconduct, nobody stood by me as we were living in a climate of fear and silence,” said Dutta.
Earlier this week, Dutta revisited that episode in her life and claimed that an actor had mistreated her, touched her inappropriately and had demanded that an intimate scene be inserted into her song, without naming the perpetrator.
Apart from calling out Patekar, Dutta also accused the choreographer on the 2008 sets of Horn Ok Pleassss Ganesh Acharya and its producer of being complicit in the crime as they stood by silently witnessing the harassment.
Acharya responded to her allegations claiming it was a “misunderstanding”.
“First of all, it’s a very old incident so I can’t really recall everything very clearly. But it was a duet song as far as I remember. Something did happen that day because the shooting was also stalled for over three hours. There was some sort of misunderstanding,” said Acharya to an Indian news daily.
She also hit out at Bollywood for harbouring a culture of silence and protecting powerful predators. She also observed in the television interview that established A-listers including Akshay Kumar and Rajinikanth have worked with Patekar on several projects and their support was not conducive to bringing about change.
“Akshay Kumar has made few films with Nana Patekar in the last eight years and Rajinikanth also recently worked with him [in Kaala]... If such big stars will keep working with these culprits then there’s no hope for any movement to happen,” she said.
Dutta is one of the first few actors to publicly name her alleged perpetrator, although actors including Radhika Apte, Richa Chadda and Aditi Rao Hydari have spoken about the existence of sexual harassment at workplaces without going into the identity of their abusers.
Chaddha had told Gulf News tabloid! that she would reveal names only if her country’s establishment and the law would protect her as an actor and wouldn’t cost her projects and remuneration.
It’s no secret that actresses in Bollywood are not on the top of the food chain and actors are notorious for recommending their favourite actresses to play parts in their films. Dutta, in the interview, labelled Bollywood actor as a ‘[expletive] brother’ where top actors protect the predators as they ‘are in each other’s pants’.
Dutta, who debut in 2005 in Bollywood in Emraan Hashmi-led Aashiq Banaya Aapne, was last seen in 2010 thriller Apartment.