Four days after Kannada actor Sangeetha Bhat came out as the first Sandalwood insider to speak on the ongoing #MeToo campaign, actor Sanjjanaa Galrani on Wednesday evening spoke about the sexual harassment she faced in the industry. The actor went live on Facebook to talk about her ordeal.
Sanjjanna, who has acted in more than 40 films across three languages -- Kannada, Tamil and Telugu, said, “This has happened to everyone, there is nothing to hide,” referring to the sexual harassment rampant in the film industry. “It can be the ways in which the shots were taken - but it made me uncomfortable. The moment a female actor lies down on her back, the focus shifts to her chest. If she is wearing a skirt, the focus is on her leg.”
While Sangeetha did not name any her abusers, Sanjjanaa called out director Ravi Shrivatsa for allegedly forcing and abusing her to act in scenes that she was not comfortable doing in her debut film Ganda Hendathi, in 2006.
She said, “It's about an incident from 12 years ago. There is nothing to hide. There were shots from various angles that made it look dirty. Many suggested that I was happy to do obscene scenes. I wanted to speak about this but this topic triggers a headache.”
She added, “I was a victim. Before I signed, they told me that it is the remake of the Hindi film Murder. I initially refused to do the film when I was told that there would be a kissing scene in the film, although they said it will be according to South Indian principles. They repeatedly stressed that if the scene was not part of the film, the audience will not understand the turning point in the plot. I thought one kiss would not make a big difference since I have seen this happen in colleges.”
But later, Sanjjanaa said, she was allegedly coerced into doing a number of such scenes that she was not comfortable doing. “The terms of the film were changed after I had signed up for the film,” she said, adding that, at the time of the signing, she believed the filmmaker and hoped to become a star one day.
“I am speaking out about this now as, honestly, nobody would put a camera in front of me if I had said this at the beginning of my career. Now that I have a platform for myself and people will listen when I am speaking, I have decided to come out,” she said.
However, she asked budding actors to take a strong stance against harassers.
“I have acted in 45 films, of which two to three films had producers and directors with such attitude. I would ask everyone to stand up for themselves and not get involved in a situation like this. People might say you are doing for publicity, but know that if you are talented enough, you will get enough opportunities,” she said.
On Sunday, in a long and detailed post on social media, Sangeetha of the Dayavittu Gamanisi fame, recounted how she was sexually harassed and assaulted by her industry colleagues when she was a teenager. Without taking names, she mentioned instances involving three film directors, including one director who “was in news for allegations of casting couch”; two assistant directors, one producer, a Tamil TV comedian, and two Kannada actors from one family.