In an interview, Preity is heard giggling and joking, “Aaj ki Sweetu kal ki MeToo ho sakti hai (Today’s Sweetu can become tomorrow’s Me Too). So don't hang out with any Sweetu.”

People treat you the way you want to be treated Preitys problematic take on Me TooYouTube screengrab
news Me Too Monday, November 19, 2018 - 12:25

“This MeToo movement,” says Preity Zinta, air quoting the words. “...if it is this much (signals to show a small amount) in the film industry, it is that much (signals to show a bigger amount) in every other industry. Having said that the film industry is one of the safest places, there are some of the most decent people I’ve worked with so I feel really bad when people say this industry is really bad.”

This quote is from a short snippet out of actor Preity Zinta’s full interview with Faridoon Shahryar, a journalist with the online entertainment portal Bollywood Hungama. In the video, which is around 4 minutes long, Faridoon asks her about the ‘Me Too’ movement in India, where bigwigs like Nana Patekar, Alok Nath and Vikas Bahl have been outed as sexual harassers.

"I think it is important that this MeToo movement has started but it is important that women use it for the right thing, because there are men and women who would use their position of power for their advantage but I do feel bad when women are using it when it is not that serious, or for personal vendetta or for publicity. There is a very small percentage of women who are using it and they are diluting the movement but then there are also women who have gone through all of this and me being in the industry I have heard so many stories and if you want to acknowledge that there is a problem, you have to first admit that at least there is (one) and then you solve the problem," Preity says, when asked about the 'Me Too' movement in India. 

Faridoon then asks her if she has faced anything like that in the industry.

Preity giggles and says, “I wish I had, then I would have an answer to tell you...And that’s what I am saying that this is a very relevant question because people treat you the way you want to be treated."

Faridoon agrees with her, going on to say, "It is also about the way you project, because many a times, there are a lot of people who are saying that giving all the indications and then turning back because you did not get the role and coming up with stories, that is something which is happening as well. That makes it a bit dubious I think. As you rightly said, it dilutes the entire thing."

Preity responds saying that it is important for children to be taught in schools on how to behave with other genders like they do in the USA, where she is currently living. She reiterates that she feels the film industry is not a bad place.

“Yes, if there are dodgy people, well, there are bad people everywhere. And there is nothing you can do to change the world and the only thing you can do is to change yourself. So if you go there, saying ‘I'll do anything’, then you will be stupid to ask me not to do anything. But if I am coming here and saying that I am going to work really hard, I will do anything to work hard and I have no other nonsense to entertain, you will not (face anything)... If you feel that I am good at what I am doing, you are going to be like ‘theek hai (okay), you work.’ And I am a walking example of that. So I don't believe any of the other things people have to say,” Preity says.

She then giggles and quips, “Though I heard a line – aaj ki Sweetu kal ki MeToo ho sakti hai (Today’s Sweetu can become tomorrow’s Me Too). So don't hang out with any Sweetu.”

“Sorry, that was Sapna Dubey talking,” Preity adds, giggling. Sapna Dubey is the name of the character, a gangster’s wife, that Preity Zinta is essaying in her upcoming film and Sweetu is the name of a character played by Delnaaz Paul in the 2003 movie Kal Ho Na Ho.

The snippet, needless to say, has triggered outrage on social media, many reminding the actor that her statements not only amount to victim shaming, but they also delegitimise the movement itself.

Women in the film industry, and across other industries as well, have found the courage to come out with their stories naming powerful and influential men, knowing that this might affect their careers. Belittling their trauma and mocking their experiences is the last thing they need.

'Interview edited to trivialise'

Meanwhile, Preity Zinta took to Twitter to defend her statement, saying that she was unhappy to see that the video was edited.

"Really sad 2see how the interview Is edited to trivialis& be insensitive. Not everything is traction & as someone being interviewed I expected decency & maturity froma journalist @iFaridoon. I did 25 interviews that day & only yours turned out edited like this #dissappointed (sic)," she tweeted.

She also responded to messages from other users and stated, "I’m really suprised & upset that journalists like @iFaridoon take an interview & edit it to sound controversial for better traction. If I said “I wish someone had bothered me” - it meant I would have probable beaten them up if they had... Interviews taken out of context (sic)."

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