The #MeToo movement may have taken time to find its power in India, but it has finally hit Indian shores and taken the nation by storm now by bringing big names to the attention of media and public eye one by one after Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta’s accusations of sexual harassment against veteran actor Nana Patekar appears to be encouraging women to speak out at last.
We’ve witnessed allegations made by a large number of women that spoke up against Bollywood figures, comedians, directors, a best-selling author, editors of newspapers, directors and top journalists in the last few days for sexual harassment and behaving improperly with them.
As the movement gains momentum on social media, women in the industry are coming forward to expose more prominent names and share their ordeals.
Here are the Indian celebs who have been accused as part of the #MeToo campaign in India:
1. Alok Nath
Filmmaker and producer of ’90s popular show, ‘Tara’, and filmmaker Vinta Nanda joined the #MeToo movement in India and accused senior actor Alok Nath — known for his ‘sanskari’ image– of sexually harassing her and raping her while she was working on the show almost two decades back. It is the escalating voices against sexual harassment across the world as part of the #MeToo wave that gave Nanda the courage to pen down the experiences which had left her “shattered”.
This is the long post where she narrated her ordeal on Facebook:
Alok Nath responded to the allegations saying, “Neither I am denying this nor do I would agree with it. It (rape) must have happened, but someone else would have done it. Well, I do not want to talk much about it as for the matter if it has come out, it will be stretched.”
Tara star Navneet Nishan has supported Vinta Nanda’s allegations against Alok Nath while confirming the harassment she faced at the hands of the actor. Nishan said she empathises with the “terrible pain” Nanda has gone through. Without naming Nath, she said she also suffered because of this man’s “power trip.” “I empathise with Vinta for the terrible pain she has gone through; it is unimaginable. I dealt with the four year harassment by slapping the man in question and it is done and dusted. I suffered the loss of the show and was further shamed by the man through media and I endured that. I fought my battles there and then. I am immensely glad that the power trip and sexual dominance coming from this power is being called out. It is high time,” she told PTI.
Following the allegations that have now gone viral on social media, executive member of Cine and Tv Artistes’ Association, Sushant Singh took twitter to simply apologize and mention that a show cause notice will be sent to the actor on the allegations by Vinta Nanda.
2. Abhijeet Bhattacharya
An FIR has been filed against singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya for allegedly abusing and harassing a woman. The woman in question said that Bhattacharya had abused her during a telephonic conversation.
“The woman had an argument with the singer over some drilling work being done in the society. She claims that she was abused by him. We have registered a case and will be investigating the case further,” the Mumbai police said.
Bhattacharya has, however, denied the allegations and told that the woman had been threatening him in order to extort money from him. “She has been threatening me and others to extort money. I have given a commercial place to rent. My tenants were getting some work done, and she objected to it. Being the owner of the place, I intervened,” the singer said.
3. KR Sreenivas
Seven women have accused Hyderabad Resident Editor KR Sreenivas of sexual misconduct and asked Times Of India for his termination from employment. Several other women have accused him of sending lewd messages, making sexually laden gestures, mentally torturing them and touching them inappropriately.
The petition details the accounts of the seven signatories, which ranged from innuendo-laced messages to isolating them when they complained about his behaviour, ensuring their careers took a hit. Screenshots and annexures are attached, where each survivor described the trauma inflicted on them, and in almost all cases there was a clear power dynamic at play — Sreenivas was in a position of power and could easily put an end to their careers.
In one incident, he repeatedly sent lewd jokes and messages of a sexual nature to Shatabdi Chakraborty, a sub-editor in his bureau, and often used to call her late at night and tell her he loved her.
In another, a woman who interned at the Goa bureau of Times of India, where Sreenivas was the Resident Editor, stated that he would constantly ask her out or would try to make plans with her, but she turned him down each time.He even befriended journalist Shubhakeerthana on Facebook on the pretext of some work and sent her several inappropriate messages.
Author Vani Saraswathi’s account in the petition shows how far back Sreenivas’ predatory behaviour dates. She details that she worked with him at another media house, and from 1995, for a few years, he harassed her. When she objected to him invading her space, she was reassigned to new beats, and isolated. The pattern is evident here — he isolates the young women who protest his behaviour, ensuring their careers too are stuck.
Hours later, ToI released a statement saying that KR Sreenivas has been asked to go on administrative leave till an inquiry is conducted and completed against him.
“TOI is committed to providing all colleagues with a safe and conducive work environment, free of sexual harassment. In keeping with this commitment, the internal complaints committee of BCCL is looking into concerns that have been brought to our notice about KR Sreenivas. To ensure a fair and impartial inquiry, he has been asked to proceed on administrative leave pending closure of the inquiry. Please be assured that the committee is completely independent in its functioning,” the email sent out to employees of TOI stated.
4. MJ Akbar
Adding to the exhaustive list of women who have been sexually harassed, molested or assaulted by their male bosses, several women journalist called out MJ Akbar on Twitter and alleged sexual harassment when he was a working journalist. Now a Rajya Sabha MP and the Minister of State for External Affairs, Akbar was the founding editor of The Telegraph, had launched The Asian Age and worked at a number of other media organisations, including The Sunday Guardian.
Priya Ramani was the first journalist, who called out MJ Akbar and accused him of inappropriate behaviour. After her post, several other women spoke up and accused MJ Akbar of sexual harassment. With her tweet, Ramani had shared a link to her 2017 article, wherein she accused him of behaving inappropriately. Though, back then Ramani didn’t name him. However, in her tweet, she outed Akbar and also spilled the beans on why she didn’t reveal his name when she wrote the article.
Soon after Ramani shared her tweet, a number of women retweeted and shared their own encounters with Akbar, accusing him of making them feel uncomfortable by calling them to his hotel rooms for interviews, inviting himself to their houses with a bottle of alcohol to even turning up at their houses “for coffee”.
Another woman journalist has also said that she was called to Akbar’s hotel room for an interview for Asian Age, in Kolkata’s Taj Bengal in 1995. She clarifies that he didn’t actually “do” anything, but that “the whole experience of an interview sitting on a bed in a hotel room followed by an invitation to come over for a drink that evening was rattling and deeply uncomfortable”. She declined the job offer.
Even as Sushma Swaraj refused to comment on the allegations against Akbar, Congress national spokesperson Manish Tewari said the case dates back to when Akbar was a journalist, not a political leader.
“MJ should come up and speak on this. The prime minister should speak on the allegations against his minister,” he said. “The minister concerned (Akbar) should speak up. Silence cannot be a way out. It’s an extremely serious matter and should be investigated.”
5. Chetan Bhagat
Chetan Bhagat, one of India’s top-selling authors, got himself embroiled in the movement when a woman shared screenshots of WhatsApp conversations between them on Twitter accusing him of sexual harassment. The 44-year-old author immediately shared a long response to the allegations made against him in a Facebook post and accepted the fact that the screenshots were real. In the post, he has written that he also apologized to his wife for his behavior.
“I should have had better judgement, but I guess I erred a bit there. Maybe I misread the friendliness,” his apology read. While many lauded the ‘Three Mistakes Of My Life’ author, others expressed their disappointment.
6. Varun Grover
Award-winning lyricist and writer Varun Grover was called out by a former student of Banaras Hindu University for misbehaving with her in 2001 on the pretext of working on a play. However, Varun has denied all the alleged claims of sexual harassment against him in a statement.In a Twitter post, Varun said, “I completely, totally, categorically deny all the allegations being made. The screenshot in question is untrue, misleading, and defamatory to say the least. Issuing a detailed statement soon.”
In a later tweet, Grover provided a detailed explanation, refuting the survivor’s claims. He said he studied at IT-BHU and not BHU, as mentioned in the accuser’s tweet. He also said that he directed only two plays during his time at the university, none of which was about Vishwakarma and Tilottama, adding that he would be open to the idea of an independent panel verifying the accuser’s claims, if she was able to furnish any evidence of the said play or incident.
The Twitter post was followed by a detailed statement on the social media site where the writer said that he has “NEVER touched any person inappropriately in life.” He also added, “I know it must be really disheartening for so many people to read these allegations about me and I understand if you want to keep your distance and believe them for now — but I promise you I will clear my name from this defamatory tactic.
Till then, keep #MeToo alive and don’t let such stary cases hamper your spirit.”Anurag Kashyap, who has been Grover’s longtime collaborator, tweeted in his support:
7. Utsav Chakraborty
Comedian Utsav Chakraborty, who has featured in some videos of comedy collective All India Bakchod (AIB), has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women who have come out about their experiences on social media. In his defence, he says the issue needs patience and context.
The allegations came to light as part of a Twitter thread about the way Indian men behaved onboard a cruise liner. It led a woman to allege that Chakraborty had sent unsolicited pictures of private parts to women and harassed girls, including minors, through social media platforms.
A post by Twitter handle @AGirlOfHerWords read: “I want everyone to know @Wootsaw (Chakraborty) is a piece of sh*t. He sent me a d**k pic, was creepy, then cried saying I’ll ruin his career if I tell others. I told two of the most influential men in comedy in India. Nothing happened. Let me tell you what else he has done with others.”
It sparked a ripple effect and many other women came forward and shared similar stories involving Chakraborty. Some claimed he sent them explicit and offensive direct messages via social media and asked nude images from them too.
Chakraborty, in a statement issued on his Twitter page, said issues are more complicated than they seem. After an initial dismissal, Chakraborty, who now faces a possible police investigation, tweeted that he has “been the exact monster I’ve been trying to fight all my life”. AIB also immediately delisted every video featuring Chakraborty on its channels.
8. Gursimran Khamba
One of the founding members of group AIB, Gursimran Khamba, has been accused by a woman of misconduct but the comedian has categorically denied “any violation of consent”. The woman, who requested anonymity, posted her statement through the Twitter handle of a journalist.
She said she and the comedian had “hooked up two-three times, consensually and continued being friends” but things escalated when on two separate occasions, Khamba tried “repeatedly to make out with me while we were hanging out”.
“I am aware of the person who’s stated the incident… in 2015 we had hooked up consensually multiple times. But I categorically deny the incident mentioned in October and December. I was not forceful. “It is true that I developed feelings for her while she was dating someone else. During that time given our friendship and history I felt rejected and was angry and did not behave appropriately at all. It had become a toxic relationship and I’d like to apologise unconditionally for it like I had done in the past. That behaviour was extremely uncalled for. She rightly stopped talking to me,” Khamba said.
He said the woman reached out to him and they tried being friends again, but he was already in a relationship with his now wife. “She was uncomfortable with our past history because of which I stopped talking to her. I’m sorry for my bad behaviour and all the hurt it caused her but I categorically deny any violation of consent,” he added In another news, Tanmay Bhatt knew about the wrongdoing of Utsav Chakraborty and still didn’t take any action. So, Gursimran and Tanmay Bhatt have stepped down from their positions at AIB. Infact, in a statement, AIB’s head of HR said that they do not know what this means for the future of the collective.
In the latest development now, Star India’s online medium has also withdrawn the future shows of AIB. Yes, the popular ‘On Air With AIB’ now stands cancelled after looking at the shocking claims.
9. Nana Patekar
It all started with Tanushree Dutta talking about actor Nana Patekar’s inappropriate behaviour on the film set of Horn Ok Pleasss 10 years ago.She accused the actor of misbehaving with her on the sets of 2008 film Horn Ok Pleasss. At the time, when she protested, she said that he called goons from the political party MNS (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) to bash up her car. The MNS denied their involvement in the incident.The incident had made headlines at the time and slowly faded away from public memory. Tanushree left India a little later for the US.On her return, Tanushree reiterated her allegations against Nana.
On his part, Nana had said that there was no truth to her allegations and that there were around 50 people on set, so it was not possible for such an incident to have taken place. At the press conference held later on,
Patekar said, “My lawyer has advised me not to speak on the matter. Hence, I kept silent. Otherwise, I would have no issues talking to the press.”
On further prodding, the actor said, “What should I say? I said 10 years ago. The truth which was 10 years ago remains the same today and will continue to be tomorrow as well.”
10. Vikas Bahl
Kangana Ranaut, an actress who worked with Bahl on “Queen”, his 2014 hit film touching on female empowerment, came out and saidthat the director would “bury his face in my neck and hold me really tight”. Bahl, another woman crew member said, insisted on dropping her to her hotel room on the early hours of 5 May 2015 and pretended to pass out drunk on her bed, only to awaken soon after and masturbate on her.The woman was alone, vulnerable and recovering from an accident that had left her on crutches for months. She had only just begun to walk unassisted.
In October 2015, she reached out to Kashyap and detailed her experience, but almost two years would pass before her testimony was addressed with any degree of seriousness.Meanwhile, Bahl harassed her until she finally quit the company in despair, she said in an interview.Vikas was accused of sexual misconduct at a 2015 Phantom Films party in Goa. Over the weekend, it was announced that Phantom Films, co-owned by Vikas Bahl along with Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane and Madhu Mantena, had been dissolved over allegations against Bahl.Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap has issued a detailed statement on Saturday that alleged that he sat on a complaint of sexual assault by his former collaborator, Vikas Bahl. The woman in question told the website that she had complained to Kashyap soon after the alleged assault in May 2015, but that no action was taken against Bahl either by Kashyap or the other founders of Phantom Films.
11. Rajat Kapoor
Actor Rajat Kapoor has been called out for alleged sexual harassment on Twitter with two women accusing him of inappropriate behaviour.
The first alleged incident took place in 2007 wherein the journalist was conducting a telephonic interview with Rajat Kapoor during which he drifted from the topic and asked her questions about her sexual nature. This made her very uncomfortable.
The second women alleged that Rajat would call her from actor Saurabh Shukla’s phone and tell her he wanted to shoot a film with her in an empty house. She alleged that Saurabh Shukla knew about this.
Rajat posted an apology on Twitter saying, “On Twitter, Rajat Kapoor posted this: “All my life I have tried to be a decent man, to do the right thing. If however, I have slipped and through my actions or words caused pain or hurt or trauma to absolutely anybody, please accept my apology. I am sorry from the bottom of my heart – and sad that I was the cause of this hurt to another human being. If there is one thing more important to me than even my work, it is to be a good human being. And I have tried to be that person. And now, I will try harder.”
12. Kailash Kher
A female journalist has accused singer Kailash Kher of harassment. She said: “This creep kept his hand on my thigh.”
In his defence, Kailash said in a statement to IANS: “For all those who know me and have come across me, will know how much I respect humanity, especially women, even more for the ones who work in media since their work is difficult.
“I am almost all the time in my own simple world, but in case anyone has taken or thought something differently about anything, then it is my sincere apology. My devotion to music makes me who I am and I am thankful for all the love and support,” he said.
Editors of Indian newspapers stepping down after coming in limelight under #MeToo allegationsApart from celebrities from the film and entertainment industry, editors and journalists from the media have also come under the scanner for sexual misconduct.
The allegations concerning the media have surfaced over the past few days with several names, including some prominent ones, being mentioned in the social media. Journalist Sidharth Bhatia, founder of The Wire, issued a statement rubbishing allegations against him in which he said that he could not recall either the two women who had made the allegations or the incident they had mentioned.
“I forcefully deny the allegations,” he said, adding that if the complainant comes up with further details, he was prepared to face an inquiry.
Several other allegations against senior journalists were made on the social media. Former DNA Editor-in-Chief Gautam Adhikari and Mayank Jain of Business Standard. Journalist Prashant Jha also stepped down on Monday as chief of bureau and political editor of Hindustan Times and the media house looking into the allegations of sexual misconduct against him.