India's #MeToo moment

Two legal notices slapped on actor Tanushree Dutta

Director Vivek Agnihotri sent actor Tanushree Dutta a legal notice on Wednesday, a few days after Ms. Dutta said in interviews that the director of Chocolate (2005) had asked her to strip on set.

Mr. Agnihotri released a statement through his legal representive, Nidhish Mehrotra of ANM Global Solicitors and Advocates. It said, “The allegations levelled against my client Mr. Vivek Agnihotri by Ms. Tanushree Dutta for misbehaviour and/or harassment are absolutely false, frivolous and vexatious. These allegations are deliberate and have been borne with an intent to attract publicity and wreak personal vendetta against my client with mala fide intentions. On the instruction of my client, we have served a legal notice to initiate defamation action against her and all the news agencies that have engaged in unethical and immoral conduct to promote sensational journalism without any diligence or proper verification and with the intent of defaming my client.”

When contacted, Mr. Mehrotra claimed to be travelling while Mr. Agnihotri instead replied with a link to Satyajit Gazmer’s (an assistant director on Chocolate) Facebook status in support of the director.

Assistant director’s view

It relays the incident from Mr. Gazmer’s perspective, which challenges Ms. Dutta’s claims of being asked to strip. It said, “When we called Tanushree she did her rehearsals in the bathrobe. When the dance director Remo got ready for the shot, one of my assistants asked her to take off the bathrobe. She asked why should she if it’s Irfan’s close-up. The assistant tried to explain to her but she didn’t understand that she was in OS (over-the-shoulder) shot of another camera. Then I was called and I explained it to her.

“She didn’t understand that in a multiple camera set-up, the main camera can be on someone but that other cameras were shooting her. I asked her to take off her bathrobe and shoot in film costume, which she was wearing under the bathrobe. It’s a pink dress which anyone can check on YouTube. The song was Bheega bheega sa December hai. In the interview, Tanushree and the media have made it sound as if she was asked to strip which is absolutely false.”

Ms. Dutta refrained from adding to her official public statement which read as follows, “I have been slapped with two legal notices today. One from Nana Patekar and another from Vivek Agnihotri. This is the price you pay for speaking out against harassment, humiliation and injustice in India. Both Nana’s and Vivek Agnihotri’s teams are on a smear campaign against me by constructing outright lies and misinformation on social media platforms and other public platforms. Their supporters are coming ahead and weaving damning allegations against me, even shouting at the top of their voices at press conferences. Today, while I was at home and the police personnel posted outside my home were on a lunch break, two individuals tried getting into our home uninvited but were stopped just in time by security personnel in the building.

‘Violent threats’

“Later, the police came back from their break and secured the premises again. Violent threats are being issued against me by the MNS party. I’m being threatened to be dragged into the court and legal system of India which we all know can keep a woman and her supporters as well as media silent on the pretext of “matter sub judice”, but can also further be used to harass her and drain her financially. False witnesses supporting perpetrators are conjured up to further weaken her case. Court cases can run for decades without a hope for a conclusion,” the statement said.

In another turn of events, comedian Utsav Chakraborty (who has significantly collaborated with All India Bakchod) has been accused of sexually harassing women on social media. YouTuber Mahima Kukreja (@AGirlOfHerWords) was the first to call out Mr. Chakraborty’s actions with more women responding with similar allegations. As of now, comedians Sahil Shah and Urooj Ashfaq, along with Varun Grover and Aditi Mittal, have tweeted in support of the women who have come forward.

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Printable version | Jun 11, 2021 2:34:12 PM |

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