Actress Tanushree Dutta has said that the clean chit issued to director Vikas Bahl by the internal complaints committee of Reliance Entertainment is not valid.
The director was accused of sexual misconduct by a former employee of the production house Phantom Films. Reliance Entertainment announced last week that he has been cleared of all charges as per their ICC investigation, and will now be credited for directing Hrithik Roshan’s Super 30.
A report by Deccan Chronicle quotes Tanushree who said that he cannot be cleared of charges when the police investigation is pending. “What is this Reliance committee? Who are the members of this committee? Reliance committees are giving clean chits while law and order and police investigation is still pending? Of course all these committees will give clean chits. They are made up of such people. Clean chit is valid only when police or judiciary of India gives it. The rest is corruption,” she said.
She further said that it was not surprising that the complainant did not press charges. “Such committees have been operating for ages clearing rapists, molesters and harassers. This is just a PR stunt to get image control, so these weirdos (#MeToo accused) can get back to business. And the victim not pressing charges is not surprising given the shame, stigma and hassle of a court case.”
Tanushree also said that Bollywood stars need to be more responsible and Hrithik Roshan, who is yet to respond to the issue, must take a stand on this. “Reinstating someone accused of such heinous acts is not acceptable. Come on, Hrithik. I thought you were different! Take a stand,” she said.
Tanushree was the first to speak up about sexual harassment in Bollywood during #MeToo in 2018, a decade after she accused actor Nana Patekar of harassing her on the sets of a film. She had filed a case against him, and last month there was news that he was also given a clean chit by the police. However, she clarified that the actor was only spreading false rumours and the case was on.
On June 1, Mumbai Mirror reported that Vikas Bahl was given a clean chit. They quoted a source as saying that the ICC of Reliance probed the allegations with diligence and cleared all charges, even though the complainant did not appear before the committee despite repeated calls and reminders. “Those associated with the complainant and respondent were interviewed by the committee. It also recorded documentation and correspondence between the two based on this and unanimously concluded that Vikas Bahl stands exonerated of all charges leveled against him,” the source said.
Shibashish Sarkar, Reliance Group CEO also said, “Yes, it is true that the internal complaints committee report has exonerated Vikas Bahl. With the committee clearing Vikas, we don’t have a choice but to reinstate his credit as director of Super 30.”
The allegation was made in 2015 by an ex-employee of Phantom Films, but it was reported only last year during the MeToo movement. Huffington Post shared her account in October 2018, where she detailed her experience of sexual harassment by Vikas Bahl and said that she has been struggling to revive her career in Bollywood since she spoke up about it.
Kangana Ranaut was one among her supporters and alleged that Vikas Bahl also made sexual advances towards her during the shoot for Queen. Her sister Rangoli Chandel tweeted on June 1 that Vikas Bahl must have had some dealing with Reliance for them to give a clean chit.
(Contd)…tum logon ka hisab hoga, there is a world beyond this world, where a woman’s cry isn’t unheard …?”
— Rangoli Chandel (@Rangoli_A) June 1, 2019
Last year, the complainant alleged that she had approached Anurag Kashyap after the incident but her complaint was ignored. Anurag Kashyap, who co-owned Phantom Films with Vikas Bahl, Vikramaditya Motwane and Madhu Manten, with 50% stake for Reliance Entertainment, issued a long statement saying that the company cut all ties with Vikas Bahl after the complaint was raised, and he issued an apology to the complainant.
Following a public outrage, Hrithik Roshan tweeted that he will not work with any person who is found guilty of sexual harassment, and requested the producers to take a harsh stand. Phantom Films announced that their company will be dissolved and Super 30 would be their last film. Reliance Entertainment said that they did not received any formal complaint so they did not take up the case earlier.
Meanwhile, a defamation suit was filed by Vikas Bahl against Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane in October last year seeking damages of Rs 10 crore for allegedly orchestrating the whole campaign against him. A verdict on this is pending.
Image Courtesy: IndiaTV News