Actor Tanushree Dutta, who has accused colleague Nana Patekar of sexually harassing her on the sets of a film in 2008, on Sunday said that this was the right time for women who have faced sexual abuse and harassment to speak up.
On a panel at an event called ‘We The Women’ in Bengaluru, Dutta said, “This is the right time to speak up because there is safety in numbers. How many defamation suits are people going to file? How many are courts going to take up? People will see that something is up.” She was referring to the large number of women who have been recounting instances of harassment and naming their abusers on social media over the last couple of days. Many of these allegations have been made by women journalists against their male bosses, seniors and colleagues.
Dutta also warned women who are speaking up to be prepared for what comes after. “Be prepared for the backlash,” she said. “It is not like these men are going to accept that they harassed you, they are not going to sit back and let these power structures crumble. But you will also get a lot of support from other men and women standing up.”
Dutta has filed a police complaint against Patekar, which also names choreographer Ganesh Acharya, producer Sameer Siddiqui and director Rakesh Sarang. Patekar has sent a legal notice to Dutta, asking her to apologise for making false claims. She has also received a notice from director Vivek Agnihotri, who allegedly asked her to take her clothes off and dance to give co-star Irrfan Khan his cues while they were shooting for Chocolate in 2005.
When asked about the muted response from the film industry to her allegations against Patekar and Agnihotri, Dutta said, “I am disappointed but I am not surprised because there has always been a culture of silence. This was harassment but I am sure there are far worse things that have happened.”