Mumbai police has closed the case of sexual harassment against actor Nana Patekar, citing that they can find no evidence in support of the complaint. This comes just days after director Vikas Bahlwas given a clean chit by the internal complaints committee of Reliance Entertainment on the sexual harassmentallegation made against him. This made the way clear for Bahl to have his name featured in bold, in the trailer of upcoming Hrithik Roshan starrer Super 30. And back in January, Alok Nath, was granted an anticipatory bail by the Dindoshi Sessions Court, in the sexual harassment and rape case filed against him by Vinta Nanda. He went on star in the recently released De De Pyaar De, which featured Ajay Devgn and Tabu. It wouldn’t be long before Sajid Khan is back to directing a big budget comedy after being given a ‘clean chit’, if that word holds any meaning at all.
- The Mumbai police has closed the sexual harassment case against Nana Patekar citing lack of evidence.
- Just some days ago, an internal complaints committee gave a clean chit Vikas Bahl as well.
- Does this mean that there is no such thing as sexual harassment in the film industry?
- Or just that it is easier to levy allegations than to prove them?
People are already calling Patekar a victim on social media and suggesting that he should claim a compensation for damage to his reputation.
So at the end of the day, what we’ve got is a spotless and innocent film fraternity, which is a victim of false allegations, negative imagery and a working culture that is deeply misunderstood, a group of women who dared to stand up against Bollywood big wigs now absolutely clueless and spent, and a junta which is waiting on its toes to welcome these verdicts and rub them in the faces of all those who supported #MeToo India. Their idols have won, and the clean chits have proven that there is no such thing as workplace harassment and that women have a tendency to over-react, or worse, lie. Where does #MeToo movement in India go from here, as it has come full circle, since we stand right on the point we started?
People are already calling Patekar a victim on social mediaand suggesting that he should claim a compensation for damage to his reputation. They are already celebrating his innocence on the basis of lack of evidence. So what do all these closed cases ad clean chits mean? That, there is no such thing as sexual harassment in Bollywood? That all these women, known and unknown, who raised their voice to face intense public scrutiny and judgments were lying? Or does it simply mean that proving allegations of sexual harassment is much more difficult than making them. The justice system and even the society demand evidence and witnesses. So how do you give evidence for a lecherous remark? Or being flashed in someone’s private chambers? How do you prove an unwanted sexual advance that left no physical bruises on your body? Just because you cannot prove it, does it mean that nothing happened? We should have known that it is easier to give men the benefit of doubt than believe in survivors.
The justice system and even the society demand evidence and witnesses. So how do you give evidence for a lecherous remark? Or being flashed in someone’s private chambers?
Didn’t we know that this was a society where male privilegemade us question women’s intent all the time, but never a man’s actions? That both the industry and those who sustain it by shelling out money to watch the films it churns out, see nothing wrong with objectification and stereotyping of women? We should have known better than to expect due diligence from an industry where everyone knows everyone. There is a reason why these allegations come from women low in the hierarchy of power, or intruders in Bollywood. The big Bollywood parivaar will always have each other’s back, especially if there is money on the line.
Let us face, we always knew sustaining #MeToo in our country would be much more difficult. These clean chits, the readiness with which everyone is accepting them points to what exactly is the problem is. But does that mean we should give up on #MeToo altogether? Should Nanda, Dutta and many others who have risen, or are yet to raise their voices against harassment accept defeat? Not yet. We should instead strive harder to change the social approach to sexual harassment. Believe, that is the key word here. Believe in the movement, believe in the survivors, and keep that belief in your mind when you buy your next movie ticket.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.