Filmmaker Vikas Bahl, who has been accused of sexual assault, has filed a Rs 10-crore defamation suit against his former Phantom Films partners Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane, PTI reported.
Earlier, Bahl had sent legal notices to the two, accusing them of orchestrating a campaign against him by using the harassment allegation as an opportunity to disband Phantom Films and pin the blame on him. The notices came in the wake of Kashyap and Motwane’s statements on social media condemning Bahl in the wake of the allegations.
During a hearing on Wednesday, a court in Mumbai asked Bahl to also make the woman who accused him harassment a respondent to the lawsuit. The judge, SJ Kathawalla, asked whether the parties wanted to sort out the issue amicably.
Bahl had sought an interim direction from the court seeking to restrain Kashyap and Motwane from making any statements against him publicly. His lawyer said that the woman who had accused Bahl had been in touch with him even after the alleged incident. The judge did not pass any order on Bahl’s plea and will hear the matter next on Friday.
Phantom Films, which Bahl, Kashyap and Motwane started along with Madhu Mantena in 2011, was disbanded on October 6. The filmmakers said they had decided to dissolve their partnership and go their separate ways, but no reason was given. The same day, a Huffington Post article detailed a former Phantom Films employee’s account of alleged sexual assault by Bahl in 2015. The incident had been reported in May 2017 by Mumbai Mirror. Bahl had denied the allegations at the time.
The Huffington Post article also alleged that Kashyap had ignored the complaint in October 2015. The woman resigned from Phantom Films in January 2017. She said that Kashyap had reached out to her in March saying he wanted to “set things right”.
Kashyap issued a statement after the report was published, claiming that he had been given the wrong advice by his legal team. Kashyap said he had tried to take action in his personal capacity by suspending Bahl, barring him from the premises and taking away his signing authority. “If that wasn’t enough, I also named and shamed him privately amongst whomever asked about it,” he said, adding that he was the anonymous source for the Mumbai Mirror story in 2017.