Actor Tanushree Dutta, who has accused former colleague Nana Patekar of sexually harassing her in 2008, said she received two legal notices on Wednesday. While one was from Patekar, the other was from director Vivek Agnihotri.
Two days after she alleged that Patekar had harassed and intimidated her when they were working together in 2008, Dutta on September 28 said that a director had asked her to take off her clothes and dance to give co-star Irrfan Khan his cues. She did not name the director but said the incident occurred on the sets of Chocolate (2005), which was made by Vivek Agnihotri. Khan, who was horrified, and actor Suniel Shetty spoke up for her then, she claimed.
“This is the price you pay for speaking out against harassment, humiliation and injustice in India,” she said in a statement put out by her public relations team Shimmer Entertainment. “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 damming allegations against me, even shouting at the top of their voices at press conferences.”
On Wednesday, two unidentified people tried to enter her home when the police personnel posted outside her house were on a lunch break, she said, adding that they were stopped “just in time” by security personnel in the building. “Later, the police came back from their break and secured the premises again.”
She reiterated that Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena party was also issuing violent threats against her.
“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 subjudice’ but can also further be used to harass her and drain her out financially,” she said.
Court cases can run for decades without any hope for a conclusion, she said. “This is the age old saga of survivors in our nation. I walked away once from the same environment that was created for me 10 years ago,” she added. “Found God, found my healing, found my peace and a new life in United States of America. And now I stand to lose this new life too if I allow myself to get embroiled in the court system of India. And you wanted to know why the me too movement hasn’t happened in India. This is why.”
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Police filed a defamation case against Dutta on Thursday for allegedly defaming Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, PTI reported. The police filed the case after a complaint by the party’s Beed District President Sumant Dhas.
“We have registered a non-cognisable offence against Dutta under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code and are investigating the complaint,” a police officer said. “We have also asked the complainant to approach court.”
In an interview to Zoom TV on September 25, Dutta accused Patekar of intimidating and harassing her on the sets of the film Horn ‘Ok’ Pleassss, which was released in 2009. Dutta was signed for a song but was later replaced by Rakhi Sawant. She first made the allegations in 2008. Patekar had denied the allegations at the time too.
Dutta told the entertainment channel that Patekar used to harass her on the film’s set and had asked the director to include him in an “intimate step” in what was supposed to be the actress’ solo dance performance. She also claimed that Patekar had called people working for the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, who intimidated her and damaged her car. A video of the attack went viral last week.
Dutta’s allegations have largely been met with silence from the Hindi film industry but last week, Farhan Akhtar, Priyanka Chopra, Swara Bhasker, Sonam K Ahuja, Twinkle Khanna and others tweeted in her support.
Some of the tweets came in response to a Twitter thread by journalist Janice Sequeria, who said she had been on the film’s set. She said Dutta had talked to her about the incident in detail on the day it occurred and her account was consistent with what she had said 10 years ago.