Some misogynists in Bollywood are using every possible excuse to discredit Tanushree Dutta in order to defend Nana Patekar. From calling her allegations an over-reaction to blaming it on her periods, a certain section of Bollywood, which has emerged in support of Nana Patekar, is using every sexist trope they can lay hands on to trivialise the issue at hand. But with increased awareness about harassment, their words are only putting them at further disadvantage.

One of the most ridiculous comment on this matter has come from the producer of Horn OK Please (the now ill-famed film on whose set the incident happened). According to a sting operation conducted by Times Now, Samee Siddiqui was caught on tape giving his two cents worth of reasoning on why Dutta felt harassed that day. He says, “Should I tell you the truth? I feel that day she was on her periods. Okay? So you get irritated. Small touch or maybe something else, even I don’t know what exactly happened, because I wasn’t there. Something must have happened.”

Another gem of introspection on the whole situation came from actor Raza Murad, who is also CINTAA’s executive committee member. According to him, Dutta is over-reacting. His comments have come just a few days after CINTAA released an official statement, in which it apologised for not handling Dutta’s allegations against Patekar well, back in 2008.

What are you on Mr. Siddiqui, for having this bout of verbal diarrhoea?

Samee Siddique’s period comment shows how trivialisation of sexual harassment works in Bollywood and in our society

The producer has admitted that he wasn’t there on the shoot when this incident happened. Yet, he so confidently claims that Dutta must’ve been on her periods. Why is it so hard for these people to concede that perhaps Patekar was wrong in demanding to do an intimate dance sequence with Dutta? That if the female actor wasn’t feeling comfortable, they should have changed the steps instead of bullying her into submission.

SOME TAKEAWAYS-

  • Samee Siddiqui, producer of Horn OK Please, has said that Dutta felt the way she did during the film’s shoot since she must’ve been on her periods.
  • The massive cover-up in 2008 and the measured silence and trivialisation of the issue from a certain section proves why it is so hard for a #MeToo movement to thrive in Bollywood.
  • Discrediting Dutta’s allegations on grounds of her being on her periods (supposedly), or over-reacting only puts the blame of protecting a powerful male figure in Bollywood on the shoulders of these men more firmly.
  • Their statements are more in defense of their poor performance as producers or association members.

As appalling are the accounts which corroborate how badly Patekar behaved, what is even more reprehensible is the way this incident was handled by Bollywood

The massive cover-up in 2008 and the measured silence and trivialisation of the issue from a certain section proves why it is so hard for a #MeToo movement to thrive in Bollywood. The allegations create a furore. They get a lot of media and audience attention. We  all demand explanations and justice for the survivors. But the tight-knit brotherhood at the centre of Bollywood, which protects the likes of Patekar, acts as if it is not a big deal.

It demands that the survivors prove their allegations, instead of asking the predator to prove his innocence. It gaslights the survivor by repeatedly questioning her character and even her period cycle. Perhaps, you were touchy that day. Perhaps, you misunderstood the situation. Are you sure this even happened, or is it just in your head? If two witnesses from that day had not come forward to corroborate Dutta’s story, who knows, perhaps the industry would have silenced Dutta long ago by doubting, trivialising and repeatedly questioning her claims.

Discrediting Dutta’s allegations on grounds of her being on her periods (supposedly), or over-reacting only puts the blame of protecting a powerful male figure in Bollywood on shoulders of these men more firmly

It showcases their unwillingness to accept that they messed up in handling the situation. Their statements are more in defense of their poor performance as producers or association members. These men were supposed to ensure Dutta’s well-being in the industry or on the film’s set. They failed to back her then and it has come to hound them now.

But even today, they have a chance to say sorry and accept their share of blame, just as CINTAA did as an organisation. So their comments make you wonder, are these people simply habitual to misogynist behaviour? Are they protecting Patekar or their own misdemeanour? Or are they simply too entitled even today to think that there was nothing wrong with what happened?

Picture Credit: India Today

Also Read: Indian Journalism’s #MeToo Movement Is Here And Now

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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