The Devil’s Advocate, serving you a cocktail of humour, wit and sarcasm
It was a typical day in Bollywood. The casting couch was getting its weekly airing and vacuuming in public. Dirty laundry was being washed and hung out to dry. Tinsel was dropping out of the skies. It was business as usual in Bollywood.
Meanwhile, in the land far far away, in Hollywood, the #MeToo movement was in full swing. Alleged sexual predators were smoked out of their safe hiding holes and publicly stoned. Bollywood, which is always quick on its feet to copy anything and everything Hollywood, was, for some strange reason, dragging its feet on #MeToo.
The status quo dramatically changed when Ms Tanushree Dutta rode into town on the #MeToo horseback and Bollywood’s dream sequence turned into a nightmare.
Ms Dutta, a former Bollywood starlet and beauty queen, had left Bollywood 10 years ago, for the USA. Having been an eye-witness to the #MeToo success in Hollywood, it was quite effortless for her to kick off #MeToo in India, on her return, by jumping on social media. Her allegation? Ten years ago she was harassed by Nana Patekar, to perform intimate dance steps with him she was not comfortable with, on the sets of a movie shoot, in public. How can women be so callously and derogatively treated in Bollywood?
This allegation kicked off a few others actors sharing their alleged sexual harassment experiences. Only a handful of “sex predators” have been “exposed”: Varun Grover, Alok Nath, Gaurang Doshi, Nana Patekar, Vivek Agnihotri, Vikas Bahl, Utsav Chakraborty, Chetan Bhagat, Rajat Kapoor, Aditi Mittal etc. Most of them have denied the allegations.
The most prominent of the “dirty bunch” is Nana Patekar, who is now Bollywood’s representative for Harvey Weinstein. Harvey has 90 allegations levelled against him! In all its years of existence, is this the best Bollywood can do? Sacrifice Nana Patekar at the #MeToo altar? One allegation, by one woman, in his entire career? It is comforting to know that he has not “molested” any other woman since Tanu. Whereas the serial kisser (Emraan Hashmi), serial womaniser (Salman Khan), serial on-screen rapist (Shakti Kapoor) and the other usual suspects are all allegation-free?Should Bollywood do better than this to help its #MeToo victims?
Tanushree is not getting the overwhelming support she had envisaged, from her Bollywood colleagues. A few of the “empowered and modern” women (Deepika, Priyanka, Kangana etc) have made the right noises and then disappeared into the shadows. The male feminists (Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Big B etc) are keeping a low profile and they are not getting actively involved in leading the #MeToo brigade. Tanu is disappointed with Big B’s lack of interest in the matter. Says she, “I’m hurt, as these are people who do movies on social causes. But when it comes to standing up and doing something about what is happening in front of you, there are these evasive statements that don’t make sense.”
As the days go by, the Bollywood #MeToo is appearing to be a one-woman crusade against vile Bollywood. Tanu is, at the least, fulfilling her beauty queen’s oath to “improve the status of oppressed women & children around the world”.
The Bollywood twist to the #MeToo saga came when Rakhi Sawant, one of the many item number girls, defended Nana Patekar. She went a step further and alleged that Tanushree had drugged and raped her a few times. She also claimed that Tanushree was a lesbian.
Just when the world was warming up to #BelieveWomen, Rakhi comes along and throws a spanner in the works!. Now, which woman should people believe in? Rakhi or Tanu?
Bollywood #MeToo is living up to its Bollywood “masala” fame! LMAO.
The claws are out between these two women, while the #MeToo has taken a back seat, in this cat fight. Both have called each other names and filed defamation cases against each other and in the meanwhile, hundreds of ordinary women across the country are getting raped and sexually exploited but the airwaves are occupied by the antics of these two Bollywood women. How’s #MeToo helping the poor, hapless & ordinary women in the country?
The #MeToo has been hijacked, to serve personal purposes for celebrities, the privileged and elite. In Sandalwood, three weeks after Kannada actress Sanjjanaa Galrani accused director Ravi Srivatsa, she has withdrawn her #MeToo allegation and has publicly apologised to him.
Will the situation change in Bollywood, post #MeToo fallout? Is this the death knell for raunchy item number dances and hot bedroom shots? Don’t think so. The casting couch, which is an open secret in Bollywood, could go underground. The future contracts with actors may include the “Tanushree clause” which could give the film producers, directors etc more control over a woman’s body with no provision for complaints. Only “accommodating” actors may find their way to the silver screen, for which there is no dearth of actors. “Problem” actors could be shunned or avoided and they may not find work in Bollywood.
Bollywood objectifies, sexualises and glamorises women in its movies and has been doing it for donkeys years through the rape scenes, rain dances, item number songs etc. No movie is worth its salt, if a sexy item number dance set to dirty lyrics, is not part of it. It would be suicide at the box office, if a movie is not “sexed” up. This has been tolerated and supported by the general public too!!. Tanushree’s Ashiq Banaya Aapne hot song has racked up 200 million+ views in YouTube!! Wow! Any person who supports Bollywood’s #MeToo and enjoys the objectification of women in Bollywood at the same time, is a hypocrite.
So, what authority does Bollywood have, to be the custodian of morality and be the moral torch bearer for our society?
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.