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An now India’s #MeToo has arrived

Tanushree Dutta has accused Nana Patekar of sexual harrassment.

Tanushree accuses Nana of sexual harassment

Actress Tanushree Dutta has brought about India’s #MeToo moment, though long after the Hervey Weinstein was accused of sexual abuse of female stars of Hollywood. The yesteryears star – who has a two years break in North Caroline (USA)  has dragged the film world’s attention back to 2008 – when Horn OK Please was being made.

She has named actor Nana Patekar as the alleged harasser. She claims she had made the same claims right after the incident, her words went unheard.

With the #MeToo movement underway, Tanushree has finally found her voice this time.

In an interview published on News 18 website Tanushree revisited the incident and said she was one of the first people in Bollywood to speak up on the issue.

Following Tanushree’s interview, journalist Janice Sequeira supported her claims saying she was at the film’s sets when the entire episode unfolded in 2008.

Janice detailed the incident in a series of tweets:

“Some incidents that take place even a decade ago remain fresh in your memory. What happened with #TanushreeDutta on the sets of “Horn Ok Please” is one such incident – I was there,” she wrote in her opening tweet.

Janice had gone there to cover the behind-the-scenes aspect of the Item song. But she arrived on sets, she was told the shooting has been stalled because of Tanushree.

“I could see Tanushree on set, visibly upset about something. #NanaPatekar, choreographer Ganesh Acharya and a man (who I later found was the producer) were having a conversation, while 50-odd dancers sat waiting. The official version was that the “heroine was not cooperating”. A while later, shooting resumed. Tanushree resumed work, and a couple shots later, #NanaPatekar joined her. Not long after that, Tanushree walked off set. Shooting halted again. She locked herself in her vanity van, refusing to come out. Out of nowhere, goons turned up and began banging against the vanity van door. I was told the producers had called them to set. Cops arrived. Amidst this chaos, I got hold of #NanaPatekar. All he said was, “Meri beti jaisi hai” (she is like my daughter), which didn’t really make any sense at that point.

 “Eventually, Tanushree’s parents arrived to pick her up. Her car was attacked, the windshield broken. I tried to get in touch with Tanushree to get her version of events. Around midnight, she asked me to come to her place. In tears, she narrated what really happened,” she wrote. Tanushree told Janice that choreographer Ganesh Acharya made her practise her dance steps for three days only to change it all on the day of the shoot so Nana could be a part of the sequence. “Later, she said, a lewd dance step was introduced on the insistence of #NanaPatekar, so he could touch her inappropriately. That’s where alarm bells rang, and Tanushree decided to walk off set. What she didn’t expect was the aggression shown by the producers after,” she wrote in her tweets.

 In her interview to News 18, Tanushree said that we can’t expect change until what happened to her in 2008 is acknowledged. In an interview to Zoom, Tanushree said, “Everyone knows about Nana Patekar that he has always been disrespectful towards women. People in the industry know about his background… that he has beaten actresses, he has molested them, his behaviour with women has always been crude but no publication has printed anything about it.”

“The entire industry saw what happened but there was not one word of condemnation from anybody. Every single person in this country remembers my incident and this was something on national TV for three days but even today there’s a stoic silence on that. So, my question is, ‘Who is going to believe these hypocrites?’ These are the people who stand up and raise their voice against women empowerment,” she had said.

“The cops came and got us out. We went to the police station, but before that, they went and filed a counter FIR. My father, my spot boy and my hairdresser, who were helping me, went through harassment over the next couple of years,” the 34-year-old actor alleged.

On the promos of ‘Thugs of Hindostan’, journalists asked Amitabh Bachchan about Tanushree’s claims. Big B said neither his name was Tanushree nor Nana Patekar and therefore he could not answer the question of sexual harassment of Tanushree by Nana Patekar.

The choreographer involved was Ganesh Acharya. In an interview to Aaj Tak, Tanushree Dutta claimed that it was her who had engaged Ganesh Acharya for the item song. But Ganesh Acharya has refused to back her up. Instead, about Nana Patekar, he said to News 18: “He’s a very sweet person, he can never do that. He is very helpful and he has actually helped a lot of artistes in the industry, he can never do anything like that.”

“When I was called for rehearsal I was told that Nana ji was also there in the song… But that particular song didn’t involve any kind of indecent step in the first place. It was pure dancing. That’s all,” he said.

A visibly upset Tanushree called Ganesh Acharya a ‘bloody liar’.

Tanushree has finally found some shoulders to lean on. Actor Farhan Khan, actresses Priyanka Chopra and Parineeti Chopra have come out in support of Tanushree.

Nana Patekar has said he is considering his legal options.

-Shalini Singh

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