Mumbai: One of the reasons why a ‘#MeToo’-like movement has not been seen in Bollywood has been the actresses’ hesitance in taking names of the harassers.
But is it going to change soon with ‘Aashiq Banaya Aapne’ girl Tanushree Dutta’s accusations of misbehaviour against Nana Patekar on the sets of the film ‘Horn 'Ok' Pleassss’ in 2008?
Talking about the incident, Tanushree, in an interview with Zoom TV, said, “People keep asking, ‘Why aren’t you taking names?’ There were four culprits, actor Nana Patekar, producer Sami Siddiqui, director Rakesh Sarang and choreographer Ganesh Acharya.
Nana wanted an intimate step with me, which wasn’t a part of the contract, it was supposed to be a solo sequence. From the first day itself, he has started it, and I was feeling very uncomfortable. He kept coming close to me, holding my body and pushing me around, ‘Stand here or ‘Stand there’, though actually he wasn’t needed to be on the set. Then he told the choreographers, ‘You guys move, I will teach her dance.’ Such an incident hadn’t happened to me before.”
She reveals that unlike other actresses, who’ve struggled through auditions before entering the industry, for her acting, happened by chance. After winning Miss India Universe, offers came her way immediately after that.
Tanushree said the reason for his behaviour for the mentality that, “She does glamorous roles, glamorous photoshoots so she will be this type of girl only.”
She added, “I complained to the producers, ‘Please tell him to be away from me.’ (It was like) she’s new and young, so do an intimate scene with her. It’s a side way of fulfilling your lust. If you want to molest an actress, just go and tell the producers to please insert an intimate scene with her.
“Nana Patekar called MNS (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) party on set, despite knowing they are (muted) party, that they do vandalism, producers called the media because they felt, ‘Why to solve it when we are getting publicity through it?’ It all got crowded with media, MNS guys and Nana’s paid people on the set. The MNS goons vandalised my car, it’s all video documented, online platforms and channels have the footages as the whole thing went on for three days.”
Tanushree reveals that her father had a word with the producers to resolve this matter and stressed that the actress won’t be performing an intimate step with him because his intentions weren’t right. And the attack happened when they returned to the car after the discussion.
“The police somehow came to know and rescued us. When someone informed the producers, they closed down the studio. But they had to open it later when police fired shots. We were in the car, my elderly parents were there, and they had all plans to trample us, I was petrified. Though police arrived 30 minutes late, if they were later by five minutes, we would’ve been badly injured.”
Nana is considered a veteran with almost four decades of experience, but Tanushree says the industry is aware of his nature.
“Such a disgusting person, who has, throughout his life, exploited people and misbehaved with them. In hidden tones, everyone in the industry knows that he has assaulted actresses, molested them and his behaviour towards women has always been bad. No publication ever reported it, but only gossiped in hidden tones.”
Tanushree didn’t hesitate from naming her ‘Bhagam Bhag’ co-star Akshay Kumar and Rajinikanth for continuing to work with Nana despite being aware of his misbehaviour.
“There are people who are still working with these culprits, I’m going to name them also. Akshay Kumar has been consistently working with Nana Patekar, couple of movies in the last eight years. Rajinikanth. If such big stars continue to work with these kind of people, what hope is there for any movement to happen?”
After the entire chaos, there was no way that Tanushree and the producers could have worked on the film, and she was replaced by Rakhi Sawant, who wasn’t any less derogatory.
“After this incident, they got Rakhi Sawant, biggest insult (to me). I have nothing to say about her as a woman, but as a human being, I needed to be replaced by someone more classy. She comes to the set, and starts talking sh** about me. She said, “Is our body embedded with gold and diamonds, that no one can touch her?’”
Sharing a bitter truth, Tanushree said even A-list heroes took a call on casting, and sign only those who are ready to comply to their ‘demands.’
“When heroines are cast, it’s done by the heroes, not the casting director. There was this incident one of my friends told me, some names were recommended to the actor, yet he didn’t ask what are her films, does she know acting, her awards, he just asked, it’s very crude, ‘Deti hai kya?’ (will she give in?) If you don’t, then you won’t get the film,” she said.
But did Tanushree receive any support from the industry? “Some people called me and supported me. But when I am humiliated publicly, you need to support me publicly. Condemn it, you are offering me work and supporting me, but behind my back you are also working with the same people?
“People who support themselves have bad intentions. On the face, they will say women empowerment, but when they actually need to do empower a woman, then they go silent. They are all hollow and are experts at beating the drum, their PR machinery works to build their image, like saints, but it’s all a show.
On why ‘#MeToo movement’, which led to the downfall of Harvey Weinstein in Hollywood, can’t happen in Bollywood, Tanushree says, “This guy (Nana) continues to work because they all are the same. So obviously when one woman speaks up, the entire incident stands in solidarity because they all are into each other’s pants. Why will they support me because I’m the odd one out? I was trying to make a career out of my talent and ability, but (beeped) ability, it’s like a brothel running over here.”
Tanushree, who was in USA for the past few years, has ruled out a Bollywood comeback.