Written by Dipti Nagpaul | Mumbai | Updated: September 29, 2018 7:06:07 am In a recent interview, Tanushree Dutta recounted an episode from a decade ago where Nana Patekar allegedly harassed her.
In an interview to The Indian Express, Tanushree Dutta speaks about the alleged harassment she faced, the impact it has had on her life and her hope that calling out perpetrators would encourage others to speak up about predators. Excerpts:
You were a part of the industry when you first spoke up. How tough was it then?
I wasnt thinking much then. Following the incident, all kinds of rumours were being spread about me. I was being termed unprofessional, among other things. I spoke up out of desperation, in an attempt to defend myself.
You developed a phobia of returning on the sets and quit the industry. Were there other consequences too?
We had filed an FIR but the producers filed a counter-FIR. My dad, hairdresser and make-up artiste suffered because they would be summoned to the police station every few months. Eventually, the matter had to be closed. Of course I went through anxiety and depression caused by loss of my livelihood. My healing took years and I found an anchor in spirituality. But things have a way of raising their ugly head again. Not too long ago, I received a job offer from an NGO in New York. It was a dream job and I had a good couple of rounds of meetings with them but eventually, they didnt revert. When I looked up the internet, I saw all kinds of articles either objectifying or slut-shaming me.
Your intentions for speaking up now are being questioned. Why not share a copy of the FIR?
I would have if I didnt realise how sharing the paperwork can deviate the issue. I am repeatedly pointing out that people cast doubt on women who speak up but instantly believe the perpetrator when he slut-shames the victim. I may have documentation to prove my word but not every victim does… Do we dismiss their claim then?
Why not take the legal route?
I tried and it ended in harassment that my family suffered. I have moved on and live in the US now. And we all know the legal process can take a long time. Also, this battle is no more about Nana Patekar or me; its about empowering women to speak up. But if I get justice and people stop working with Nana or Ganesh Acharya, that will be icing on the cake.
You gave up your acting career. What impact did that have?
Apart from initial loss of purpose, it didnt impact my life too much… I realised fame and success isnt the end-all of ones existence.
Do you believe this can trigger a #MeToo campaign in Bollywood?
We are behind the West by decades. Take for instance the fact that when the women in Hollywood spoke up, apart from the initial interview, they were never asked to narrate the events every time they gave an interview. But each mediaperson has asked me to relive the incident when I give them an interview. Doubts have been cast on my account. What I went through was a case of harassment. Now imagine a person who went through worse, perhaps a rape survivor, speaking up. Imagine their state when they are asked to relive the events over and over again. I am not sure if my words will trigger a movement but I am aware that it will have an impact subliminally. The girls seeing me today will realise that speaking up need not mean the end of the world even if it comes with consequences. I hope they will see me happy and doing well, and find the courage to speak up.
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