Days after Tanushree Dutta’s interview with Zoom TV, where the actor alleged that veteran Nana Patekar had sexually harassed her on sets of the film Horn Ok Pleassss in 2008, Indo-American actor Freida Pinto has voiced her support.
A resounding silence followed the first 24 hours after Tanushree spoke out, though a few Bollywood actors have since rallied behind her. Freida is latest to join them, through an Instagram post with the words, “I Believe Tanushree Dutta.” She included a long caption, where she made expressed her solidarity and support for the trauma Tanushree has detailed from a decade ago.
Freida said she believes her, despite not knowing Tanushree to personally or having been present when the incident happened. “I do know what Truth, Hurt and Abuse sounds like. The same way millions of people in the world know that Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford is NOT a Liar or an attention seeking, tantrum throwing overgrown child,” Freida wrote, referring to an ongoing case involving an assault allegation against United States Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Praising Tanushree for coming forward with her story, Freida said her account should “shake the very core of a nation and an ideology that for too long has gotten away with heinous crimes against women and where the ugliness of misogyny has dominated the rights [sic].”
Survivors of sexual crimes are frequently dismissed when they remain silent for months or years after the incident, but Freida emphasized that stories like Tanushree’s do not become irrelevant because of the passage of time. Freida wrote, “Her story is not a carton of milk that expires after a few days, ready to be discarded. So trolls: please do what you do best but it is not going to change the truth.”
Freida urged the nation to support Tanushree, and not wait for other actors to do so. “India - Stand Up, Speak Up. Don't look to just your superstars to speak up. Be your own role models and follow the voice of your conscience,” she said.
Read Freida’s full post here.
Apart from Freida, the Cine & TV Artists Association (CINTAA) also released a statement on Tuesday in support of Tanushree. “CINTAA strongly condemns any act that outrages the modesty of any individual and any form of sexual harassment is unacceptable to us,” the group said.
They also decried the decision taken by the CINTAA Executive Committee in 2008 when Tanushree had filed a complaint of sexual harassment against Nana Patekar. “After going through Tanushree Dutta's complaint, which was filed with the then Executive Committee of CINTAA in March 2008, we feel that the decision was taken in the Joint Dispute Settlement Committee of CINTAA and Indian Film and TV Producers Council (which was then known as Association of Motion Pictures and TV Programme Producers) in July 2008 was not appropriate, as the chief grievance of sexual harassment wasn't even addressed,” according to the statement.
Actors including Priyanka Chopra, Twinkle Khanna, Swara Bhaskar, Richa Chadha, Farhan Akhtar and Konkona Sen Sharma are among those who have praised Tanushree for speaking out.
Comedian-actor Vir Das wrote: "For men, a big part of the #MeToo movement is listening to women tell their story. Supporting them with belief. Tanushree Dutta is telling hers. Be a good man, shut your mouth, and listen to it. There are many many more like it in our industry. And they deserve to be heard.”
"An actor's professional choices should not dictate how they get treated in the work place. All work places must be safe and fair. If you're bringing up an actor's filmography to justify the harassment they faced.... You are a piece of sh*t," he added.
This thread is very telling. @janiceseq85 was there at the time of the incident being debated today. Even when #TanushreeDutta had career concerns to keep quiet 10 years ago she did not & her story hasn’t changed now. Her courage should be admired, not her intention questioned. https://t.co/Ola3MNdmtS— Farhan Akhtar (@FarOutAkhtar) September 27, 2018
It hurts to be #TanushreeDutta rn. To be alone, questioned. No woman wants publicity that opens the floodgates of trolling and insensitivity.What happened to her on set was intimidation.Her only fault was she didn’t back down-takes a special courage to be #TanushreeDutta.— TheRichaChadha (@RichaChadha) September 27, 2018
If a women speaks out about abuse, you listen. Even if it's on her deathbed 50 years after the incident,you listen. If you ask why she didn't speak earlier or you rush to dismiss her, the problem is with you. There will be investigation; but first, listen. Period. #TanushreeDutta— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) September 28, 2018
Please read this thread before judging or shaming #TanushreeDutta a working environment without harassment and intimidation is a fundamental right and by speaking up this brave woman helps pave the way towards that very goal for all of us! https://t.co/f8Nj9YWRvE— Twinkle Khanna (@mrsfunnybones) September 28, 2018
Several celebrities referenced journalist Janice Sequeira's viral Twitter thread in which she recalled the incident as Tanushree described. Janice was a cub reporter in Mumbai at the time and was covering behind the scenes for the song Tanushree was shooting for Horn Ok Pleassss. She corroborated Tanushree’s account of her car being vandalized by goons allegedly sent by Nana Patekar.
Others, including Horn Ok Pleassss director Rakesh Sarang and choreographer Ganesh Acharya, who had choregraphed the song Tanushree was shooting when the harassment occurred, supported Nana Patekar. Ganesh even dismissed Tanushree’s account of her car being attacked altogether. However, a video of the same has been shared widely recently, confirming this aspect of Tanushree’s story.
Meanwhile, Nana Patekar has denied Tanushree's accusations. "What does she mean by sexual harassment... there were 50 to 100 people on set that day," he told a Mirror Now journalist over the phone. According to news agency ANI, the 67-year-old actor's lawyer will be sending a legal notice to Tanushree seeking an apology for her statements.