Anurag Kashyap

Ex-Wives Aarti Bajaj, Kalki Koechlin, former Casting Assistant Jaydeep Sarkar defend Anurag

If the latest chapter in India’s #MeToo – Payal Ghosh’s allegations against director Anurag Kashyap is going to do anything – it is highly unlikely to help the cause. Bollywood is already fractured since the death of Sushant Singh Rajput, now coupled by the mystery surrounding the tragic death of Disha Salian. The situation there is like a war zone and thus, the camps, already formed in the last three months – are bound to add their voices whether helpful or not.

Payal Ghosh perhaps did not catch her breath after making the allegations when many people – female actresses Radhika Apte, Taapsee Pannu, Guneet Monga and Mahie Gill leapt to defend him.

Anurag first took to Twitter to take Payal on but then wisely appointed a lawyer to issue a statement denying the allegations.

Anurag’s lawyer said: “My client, Anurag Kashyap, has been deeply pained by the false allegations of sexual misconduct that have recently surfaced against him. These allegations are completely false, malicious and dishonest. It is sad that a social movement as important as the #metoo movement has been co-opted by vested interests and reduced to a mere tool for character assassination. Fictitious allegations of this nature seriously undermine the movement and seek to unconscionably trade upon the pain and trauma of actual victims of sexual harassment and abuse. My client has been advised about his rights and remedies in law and intends to pursue them to the fullest extent.”

Nothing unexpected.

Team Kangana and actress Rupaa Dutta added their support to Payal Ghosh which added some oxygen to what Payal had said. But soon Anurag’s ex wives came out in his support.

His first wife Aarti Bajaj in a post wrote:

“First wife here✋🏻.. You are a rockstar @anuragkashyap10. Keep empowering women as you do and the safest place you create for all of them. I see it first hand with our daughter. There is no integrity left and the world is full of losers and no brains baying for blood of anyone who has a voice. If everybody spends the energy which they use in hating others constructively this world will be a better place. Cheapest stunt I have seen till now. First it made me angry then I laughed so hard as it cannot come more framed then this . I am sorry that you have to go through this .That’s the level of them. You stay HIGH and keep using your voice. We love you.

And his second wife Kalki, panting him as a paragon of nobility and respect for women in a long post wrote:

“Dear Anurag
Don’t let this social media circus get to you, you have fought for the freedom of women in your scripts, you’ve defended their integrity in your professional space as well as in your personal life. I have been witness to it, in the personal and professional space you have always seen me as your equal, you have stood up for my integrity even after our divorce, and you have supported me when I felt unsafe in a work environment even before we got together. This strange time where everyone gets to abuse one another and make false claims without any repercussions is a dangerous and repulsive one. It is destroying families, friends, and countries. But there is a place of dignity that exists beyond this virtual blood bath, a place of paying attention to the needs of those around you, a place of being kind even when no one is looking, and I know you are very familiar with that place. Hang on that dignity, stay strong, and keep doing the work you do.
Love from an ex-wife” .

The very post by Kalki should also be seen as a reflection of the times we are living in. Kalki, who vouches for Anurag’s goodness, did not want him to be in her life. Strange! Why would you let go of such a noble soul? Do you yourself measure up to be taken seriously? Let us leave it for the hardcore cynics and Indian TV’s audiences – who live in perennial debate mode.

And now Anurag Kashyap’s former assistant Jaydeep Sarkar has come out in his defence – with a story – the exact opposite of what Payal Ghosh is alleging.

Jaydeep Sarkar wrote:

“This is the right time to recount this story. I was an assistant with @anuragkashyap72 in 2004. I was looking into secondary casting for ‘Gulaal’ and was meeting many actors. A young actress, who really wanted a part in the film insisted she wanted to meet Anurag. She waited a while and then Anurag got done with a narration and agreed to meet her. The young actress probably assumed the only way to get the role was through the ‘casting couch’. She tried suggesting a few ‘favours’ verbally. But when Anurag politely ignored it, she gently let her sari pallu drop. A few times. At this point, Anurag got up and requested her to not do this. He told her she would get the part if she was the right fit and nothing else would work. Saying this, he walked out of the room, disappointed. I was shocked by what I saw, but I had seen a hero get out of a situation, with respect and empathy for her. Later he told me he was disappointed that so many young women feel this is the only way they can make it.”

 “I don’t blame the woman! Many like her come into the industry, believing this is how you get cast in a movie. And that may even be true, much like in any other field of work. But having worked with Anurag, especially in casting, the one thing I always observed was his absolute respect for women,” Jaydeep added.

The allegations made by Payal have been taken seriously by the National Commission for Women and some sort of investigation may happen. One will know the truth only if the allegations are investigated. If it does not go that far, the only damage Payal Ghosh’s call will cause will be to the #MeToo movement. As Kalki says we are living in strange times “where everyone gets to abuse one another and make false claims without any repercussions is a dangerous and repulsive one. It is destroying families, friends…”.

If Anurag’s Twitter usage is any guide, his life seems to be back to normal while his soldiers are busy battling for him.

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