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EXCLUSIVE: Tanushree Dutta: The next hashtag in Bollywood should be #IWillNotWorkWithNanaPatekar

Tanushree Dutta The next hashtag in Bollywood

Tanushree Dutta has sparked a rage ever since her comments on the #MeToo movement in India opened up a 10 years old incident which was brushed under the carpet for many years. Tanushree spoke about the incident 10 years ago as well but it only resulted in threats and mob attacks, according to her. We are talking about the alleged harassment Tanushree had to face on the sets of Horn Ok at the hands of Nana Patekar. She has also spoken about how choreographer Ganesh Acharya allegedly forced her to do a sleazy step even after she objected to it.

While 10 years ago, things died down as soon as it caught momentum but this time the rage is different. Bollywood has come out in support of Tanushree and has taken a stand, at least a few have, in the matter. On the other hand, a few others including superstars have kept mum despite several insistence. In a candid and exclusive chat with PINKVILLA, Tanushree reiterated that her purpose of opening up on this chapter of her life is only so other girls feel emboldened. She also said that she wants to see the film fraternity take a stand and stop working with Nana so other girls feel safe.

Here's an excerpt from the conversation:

You have been instrumental in stirring up a #MeToo movement of our own. The amount of support you have garnered on the social media is immense and from the film fraternity as well. Do you feel satisfied that at least you are being heard? 

I don't take credit for this because I also fought against it some 10 years back to and every now and then when someone asked me about it, I have pretty much reiterated the same story but this time I think there is a phenomenon happening which is beyond me. It all started with an interview I was doing where the journalist asked me why is a MeToo movement not happening in India, and I just said that unless what happened to me 10 years ago is addressed, it is not going to happen. So, the tweet and the article by that publication went viral and that's where the swarm of support came from because I think that statement hit a nerve somewhere.

Also, the MeToo movement happened in the West, and many wanted a movement like that here and no one came forward to do anything. They had this one person who came forward 10 years ago and nothing happened of it, so everyone is like let's cover her story to know what really happened. Back in the day, when I spoke, what was reported most of it were lies imposed on this whole situation. But today, the consciousness has risen and harassment is a considered much more of a heinous crime today than it was at that time. It was not just harassment though when you try to escape harassment, you are to deal with a mob attack situation so I went from a boiling water to a frying pan to a fire. The fire is that I am being judged, and I was threatened with court cases, although they never sent any court notice.

Speaking of which, Nana's lawyer claim to have sent a legal notice to you..

I haven't received any. Send it dude, please send it then we will see what we have to do about it. Because he knows the moment he sends a legal notice, he will be implicated. On what basis can he send me a notice anyway? Our country gets intimated the moment they hear legal notice but a legal notice is nothing but a notice from the lawyer which says they can do this or that. But this hasn't gone in court yet. Even 10 years back, he threatened me but never got any legal notice from him. I had gone to the police even then, I had informed them about everything now it is they who wrote that down. From my side, I did whatever I can.

Many are questioning as to why aren't you taking any legal help now that the support is there?

What I am planning to do in that direction, I don't want to reveal that. But I want to make it clear in certain terms that the guy is bluffing and this is his way of threatening and not just me. Threatening me is an example to not let other girls come forward because remember he has been like that throughout his life and career.

He is like this girl is a trouble but she will go back to America shortly but what about the others? If others get emboldened, he will drown. His illusionary machinery is still trying to show him as a respectable guy but the fact is if he was that respectable, not one person has come out in his favour. The movie that he has signed, those guys are now in a spot because they are like what to do? They did not think it is a big deal, they were not compassionate and turned a deaf ear and now suddenly if they drop it, it is almost like apologizing to me. They think I am too insignificant to even apologise to or take any kind of action. This film in question, Housefull 4, while this is going on they left for shooting so these guys are like, she is too insignificant for us to do anything and I kept reiterating. It is not about me. It is about doing what is right and setting an example.

Why do you think it is difficult to find Justice in India?

Nana has chosen to believe he is bigger than what he is. Also, because he has walked over so many women, the male chauvinistic society has also given him some respect. By his own body of work, he wouldn't have got respect. In our country, how do you get justice? If someone has done something to you, you go file an FIR, the other person goes and files a counter FIR because the criminals have used the loopholes in the system to harass the victim even more. What is the use of the FIR then?

Our superstars are a shying away from talking about the incident and taking a stand.

You know, what? It actually is an extreme discomfort. The thing is the stars and the superstars of our country are just a reflection of our society. They are not aliens from outer space. They have come from our society and have the en to the position of firmness because of their ability. The problem is that in our country people often take the onscreen persona as their off-screen personality as well and get disappointed but they are actors, they act. Because they come out of the same society which is uncomfortable talking about certain topics. Sex is one of them. Now, surrounding this, there is an offender, it becomes even more uncomfortable for them. Everything is a taboo is here. Having lived here, we judge the American culture and their society, it is just that they openly discuss things and resolve it, so, when uncomfortable questions are raised, you do not coy down from Their Their people are not discussing why she did not speak 10 years or 20 years back. In America when a #MeToo movement happened, these women did not speak about the incidents to a single soul until they opened up, these cases were assault cases, some of them were harassment ones. But yet, they were heard because the industry knew these guys are like that, the association barred them, the action was taken immediately. This bullsh*t about, we will see, let the investigation take place.. was not there.

The reason it is a success there because they deal with things differently. This girl even if they couldn't speak about it earlier when they did 10-15-20 years later. The law took its course. Before that, the fraternity stood in solidarity. Here, there is no such thing, here even if someone talks about rape, justice takes so much time. Justice in our country is always social justice. It is the same sense of shame and discomfort which never always our society to take a stand and that's why people like Nana Patekar have been able to function.

Given your experience, would you be okay working in Bollywood again?

My question is, Me being the way I am and the industry is the way it is, would they come to me with something after all this? Also, If I had to pursue a long career in acting, I had enough time and opportunity but it was not there in me to pursue. I never pursued anything in Bollywood anyway, my entire career was something which was offered to me. Even now, are they going to offer me anything because at this time I think pretty much everyone is afraid of me because I am not that quintessential Bollywood heroine who takes it? People here expect everyone to adjust but I never had to adjust. I was a Miss India, I never went to them, they came to me, they wanted to use my face and title to promote their movies and I accepted so why should I be the one to adjust.

You took a break from work post-2008 and headed for a spiritual path. Did it help?

I had a spiritual encounter in 2009, spiritual life was always with me, so I was following up... but after this, the desire to take this forward came. Work-wise, I was still doing shows, events and a few assignments here and there, nothing great but enough to pay my bills. I studied Bhagwad Gita... this is something I draw my strength from. Sometimes when you have to do what is right, you have to take a leaf from Bhagwad Gita. You have to know that accusations will not always be levelled against strangers, when a MeToo movement happened in West, you support it because the one who is accused and the victim are in a far off country but if a revolution has to happen, then you have to drop many things because back home, accusations would be levelled at someone who you thought was your friend, brother, colleagues. You thought of them to be someone else but maybe somebody else did not experience the same.

Tanushree Dutta The next hashtag in Bollywood

Do you think the movement will result in some action being taken?

The support and all is fine, I am very grateful for it but where is the result? I want Bollywood to come forward and say we won't work with Nana Patekar. I understood and agreed that people believe me but the next hashtag should be I will not work with Nana Patekar, not just him but the other three people too (Ganesh Acharya, Horn Ok producer and director)

On a concluding note, what motivated you to take up this movement?

I have nothing to lose, no? Any kind of moment happens by people who have nothing to lose. because people who have a lot to lose never come forward. Back then, I had a lot to lose, still, I spoke. But that time I spoke because I had to prevent myself. This time it is for a far more greater cause. 

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