sexual harrassment

Why hasn’t Bollywood had its #MeToo movement? A BBC documentary attempts an answer

The documentary features interviews with Radhika Apte, Kalki Koechlin and Farhan Akhtar, among others.

Ever since the Harvey Weinstein revelations shook Hollywood, triggering a series of exposes on sexual harassment in the American film industry, there have been expectations of a similar avalanche in Bollywood.

But as weeks turned into months, there were nothing more than occasional murmurs about a similarly pervasive culture of sexism in India’s film industry. Even in cases where sexual assault allegations were made, a pan-Bollywood movement to decry harassment did not materialise.

Why has Bollywood’s sexism failed to be articulated beyond unattributed gossip and euphemisms such as the casting couch? BBC World’s documentary Bollywood’s Dark Secret, which was premiered on the channel on Saturday, answers that question – somewhat.

Featuring interviews with a few Indian actresses, including Radhika Apte and Kalki Koechlin, the 20-minute documentary attempts to understand why the country’s biggest film industry has been reluctant to speak up about instances of sexual harassment. While the documentary fails to adequately explore the problem in depth – undoubtedly because few were willing to go on record on the subject – it does make it clear that the reason for Bollywood’s reticence is not that the sexism doesn’t exist, but that the power structures are so deep-seated that they have so far proved impossible to dismantle.

According to National Film Award-winning actress Usha Jadhav, that needs to change. “I think it’s time we need to come out and talk about our experiences. I have faced it. I am facing it,” Jadhav, who has starred in the acclaimed 2012 Marathi film Dhag, told BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan. Jadhav claimed that a filmmaker refused to cast her in a film because she was unwilling to offer sexual favours and also threatened to hurt her career. She told him, “I don’t think you have that much power.”

Koechlin tried to explain why the moment hasn’t come yet: “People don’t listen to you if you’re nobody. If you’re a celebrity it only becomes a headline. Plus, you’re dealing with hundreds of people, men, throwing their opinions on you.”

BBC also spoke to actor-director Farhan Akhtar, who runs Men Against Rape and Discrimination or MARD, and director-editor Aruna Raje.

Apte, who in an earlier interview narrated an unpleasant experience she had with a male actor in a southern film, was refreshingly outspoken here too. “People are so scared...because here, some people are regarded as gods,” she said, pointing to a key challenge to organising a cohesive movement for change.

The documentary also features a 25-year-old aspiring actress, who said she was sexually assaulted by a casting agent and then a director. “This [your sexuality] is your biggest weapon, you should be happy to use it,” she was reportedly told. The actress said she was afraid of going public because she would be shut down and called publicity hungry.

Bollywood’s dark secret, then, seems to be that it’s not yet ready to confront sexism, not while women continue to be kept out of positions of power in the film industry. Though the documentary does little to unravel sexual harassment, it does leave viewers with the uncomfortable realisation that the climate may not be ripe yet for the film industry – or Indian society – to say #TimesUp.

Bollywood’s Dark Secret.
Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Get ready for an 80-hour shopping marathon

Here are some tips that’ll help you take the lead.

Starting 16th July at 4:00pm, Flipkart will be hosting its Big Shopping Days sale over 3 days (till 19th July). This mega online shopping event is just what a sale should be, promising not just the best discounts but also buying options such as no cost EMIs, buyback guarantee and product exchanges. A shopping festival this big, packed with deals that you can’t get yourself to refuse, can get overwhelming. So don’t worry, we’re here to tell you why Big Shopping Days is the only sale you need, with these helpful hints and highlights.

Samsung Galaxy On Nxt (64 GB)

A host of entertainment options, latest security features and a 13 MP rear camera that has mastered light come packed in sleek metal unibody. The sale offers an almost 40% discount on the price. Moreover, there is a buyback guarantee which is part of the deal.

Original price: Rs. 17,900

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 10,900

Samsung 32 inches HD Ready LED TV

Another blockbuster deal in the sale catalogue is this audio and visual delight. Apart from a discount of 41%, the deal promises no-cost EMIs up to 12 months.

Original price: Rs. 28,890

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 10,900

Intel Core I3 equipped laptops

These laptops will make a thoughtful college send-off gift or any gift for that matter. Since the festive season is around the corner, you might want to make use of this sale to bring your A-game to family festivities.

Original price: Rs. 25,590

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 21,900


If you’ve been planning a mid-year wardrobe refresh, Flipkart’s got you covered. The Big Shopping Days offer 50% to 80% discount on men’s clothing. You can pick from a host of top brands including Adidas and Wrangler.

With more sale hours, Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days sale ensures we can spend more time perusing and purchasing these deals. Apart from the above-mentioned products, you can expect up to 80% discount across categories including mobiles, appliances, electronics, fashion, beauty, home and furniture.

Features like blockbuster deals that are refreshed every 8 hours along with a price crash, rush hour deals from 4-6 PM on the starting day and first-time product discounts makes this a shopping experience that will have you exclaiming “Sale ho to aisi! (warna na ho)”

Set your reminders and mark your calendar, Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days starts 16th July, 4 PM and end on 19th July. To participate in 80 hours of shopping madness, click here.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Flipkart and not by the Scroll editorial team.