Talent agency KWAN Entertainment on Tuesday said it has asked its founder Anirban Blah to step down, following allegations of sexual harassment against him. Blah has managed actors like Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor in the past.
“In view of the article dated 16th October 2018 in Mid Day, we have asked Anirban Blah to forthwith step aside from his duties, activities and responsibilities at KWAN, its subsidiaries and affiliates with immediate effect,” the company said in a statement. “At KWAN, our endeavour has always been to create a healthy and inclusive working environment....We fully support the #MeToo movement and deprecate and condemn those who have exploited women in any way.”
The agency said it had a Prevention of Sexual Harassment committee in place and would keep all complaints confidential.
As many as four women have accused Blah of sexual harassment, said a report published in Mid Day. One of the women alleged that he invited her to his home in Mumbai for an interview and then asked her to strip. Another said that Blah scheduled an interview with her at hotel Taj Lands End in Mumbai in 2014. “When I reached the coffee shop, he gave me the number of his suite, stating that casting is done in bedrooms and not in public spaces,” she alleged.
A third woman alleged that Blah had asked her if she would be willing to be part of an “unnatural sex setup”. “I asked him to back off in harsh words and left the meeting,” she recounted. “In the six months that followed, I stopped getting brand offers.”
Another actor said that Blah attempts “a systematic breakdown of confidence” of women by sexually harassing them. “Blah is a unique predator,” she said. “First, you are made to feel inferior about your looks, your body. He told me I have small breasts, and hence, won’t have a long run in the Indian market.”
The Live Love Laugh Foundation, an initiative by Deepika Padukone to spread awareness around mental health, said Blah has resigned from the post of trustee, and said that the company has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse. “The Board [of trustees] has accepted Mr Blah’s resignation and he no longer holds the position of trustee of the foundation and will not participate in its activities and programmes henceforth.”
Since October 5, several women since have levelled allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against journalists, media professionals, actors, filmmakers and writers. Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar is one of the prominent names accused of sexual harassment. On Monday, Akbar filed a defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani.
Similarly, actor Alok Nath has also filed a civil defamation suit against writer, director and producer Vinta Nanda for accusing him of rape. He has sought a written apology and compensation of Re 1.