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Kalki Koechlin, Radhika Apte, Taapsee Pannu And Other Actresses Back Anurag Kashyap Amidst #MeToo Allegations By Payal Ghosh

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Back when Bollywood went down under the #MeToo wave, there were hopes that things would change on an atomic level. Have they? Not as much as we would’ve wanted. Especially because a lot of the biggies, who are the actual game changers and influencers in B-Town, have remained mum. For those who’ve taken a stand, it has either been for their five seconds of social media fame, or more of that armchair activism than effecting any actual change. One of the biggest hindrances to the success of #MeToo arrives in the form of counter allegations that some women were using the movement to settle personal vendettas instead of seeking justice. This point has one again started a debate when Choked filmmaker Anurag Kashyap was accused by actress Payal Ghosh for sexually harassing her in 2015.

The actress, during an interview, revealed that Kashyap called her to his home, where this alleged incident of sexual harassment took place.

“The first time I met him was at his office in Aram Nagar, Versova. The second time I met him was at his residence. We spoke in general about films and the film industry. Then he called me again to his house and this time, that is on the third occasion, he tried to force himself upon me. I did not raise an alarm but pleaded with him that he should let me go as I would return again some other time.”

She also alleged that Kashyap claimed to her about how it was all okay since other actresses that he had worked with, such as Huma Qureshi, Richa Chadha and Mahi Gill were “just a call away.”

She also tweeted about this incident, tagging Prime Minister Narendra Modi on her tweet, and asking him to take action, and claiming that she knew “her security is at risk” for coming out with this revelation.

Post het tweet, Rekha Sharma, the chairperson of the National Commission for Women posted a video, stating that she had seen Payal’s tweet, and asked her to file an official complaint against Kashyap. She also assured Payal that the NCW stood in solidarity with her.

Also Read: #MeToo: Model Dimple Paul Shares Details Of Sajid Khan’s Alleged Sexual Misconduct. Why Is He Still Not Being Investigated?

Payal Ghosh has received support on the internet from several women who believe in the #MeToo movement, which has allowed many women the world over to confront, name and seek justice against their harassers. Chief amongst them is Kangana Ranaut, who offered her support to Payal on Twitter, and stated that she too had been thus harassed by several big heroes who would flash her in their vanity vans or get a bit too friendly on the dance floor, and so on. Kangana added that while she had settled her scores her way, without needed the help of #MeToo, there were girls like Payal Ghosh who needed the movement to voice their stories.

Speaking about Anurag Kashyap, Kangana said that it was easy to believe that Kashyap could’ve done something like this, owing to his history of philandering while he was married. She also called out the now disbanded Phantom Films production house that Anurag was a part of, alongside Vikramaditya Motwane, Madhu Mantena and Vikas Bahl (Queen director), after the latter was accused of sexual assault by a former Phantom employee.

 

However, there have been many women who, while assuring their full support to Payal Ghosh’s right to call out her abuser, are not too happy that she has dragged other women into the matter without thinking twice about them.

There is also a faction that believes this allegation is merely an attempt to malign Anurag Kashyap, who has been vocal left-wing supporter, voicing his concerns about issues such as Rhea Chakraborty’s media trial, Kangana Ranaut’s crusade that terms Bollywood as a ‘drug nexus’, as well as other political issues such as the CAA/NRC protests, and so on.

Anurag Kashyap himself believes this and even tweeted about it, calling all the allegations made against him “baseless”. He also stated that you could ask his first wife, second wife, the actresses he has worked with as well as the all-women teams that work on his movies, and they would also attest to the fact that neither does he engage in such behaviour as he has been accused of, nor does he tolerate it.

Kashyap has also issued an official press statement, written by his lawyer, where he denies the allegations.

And in fact, that’s pretty much what the women associated personally and professional with Anurag Kashyap are claiming. From ex-wife Kalki Koechlin to the actresses he has worked with, such as Taapsee Pannu, Radhika Apte, and even the ones named by Payal Ghosh in her allegation, such as Mahie Gill, are coming forth in defence of the Gangs of Wasseypur director.

Richa Chadha, who has worked with Kashyap and was named by Ghosh as one of the actress Kashyap claimed were “just a call away,” has issued an official press release, stating that she will be suing Payal Ghosh for falsely dragging her name into this.

Similarly, Mahie Gill, in an exclusive interview with Etimes has made her stance on the matter quite clear. She doesn’t want to be pulled into this matter, nor give elaborate statements but she definitely indicated that she face no such issue with Anurag Kashyap, with whom she worked during Dev D.

“I really don t want to get into this rut, there’s already so much negativity happening around us. It is very easy to take names just because he launched us. All I want to say is that I have known Anurag for a long time now. We may not be in touch but I am sure Anurag can never ever speak like this about any of his actors. This is my statement and I don’t want to speak any further on this.”

Taapsee Pannu, who is one of the few Bollywood actresses who doesn’t shy away from speaking her mind about political issues and women’s issues, has also spoken up, calling Anurag “the biggest feminist I know”.

Taapsee even tweeted about how misusing the #MeToo movement will set us back years in women empowerment.

Radhika Apte too, took to her social media to share a picture of Lust Stories director, assuring Kashyap that she has always felt immensely secure in his presence.

Since a lot of the argument against Anurag Kashyap was based on the fact that he was never monogamous and has married twice, this statement posted by his former wife Kalki Koechlin, also an actress he has worked with, comes as yet another assurance. Kalki addressed a letter directly to Kashyap, asking him to not let the social media circus get to him, and reminding him and everyone else how he always stood up for her even post their divorce. She asked him to hang on to his dignity and stay strong until this passes.

In light of this case, a post penned by actress Saiyami in June, post the release of her Anurag Kashyap-directed film Choked, has also gone viral. In the post, Saiyami talked about how she had heard that Kashyap’s life was “riddled with drugs, women, & vices”. However, in the course of three years of making the film, she got to know him more as a person, and realised it was the exact opposite.

Another women who has worked with the filmmaker, has also defended him on Twitter.

It’s hard for us, in the light of viewing this conversation in a 360-degree lens, to take a stand with either Payal Ghosh or Anurag Kashyap.

But you know what the best part is? We don’t have to. Because that really isn’t our job, is it? Our job is to support any woman who chooses to speak up against her alleged abuser, and to ensure that she has a safe environment as she files an official complaint against them and pursues a legal course of action to seek justice. We can only hope that Ghosh pursues the matter in such a manner as to shut down any counter-allegations against her that this was all a political stunt to malign a vocal dissenter. Because if that is the case, if this is indeed a political gimmick, then we really have set back the little bit of progress that #MeToo brought for women in India.

However, we cannot turn a blind eye to the crucial misstep in her POA, where she chose to tactlessly malign other women in the process. It is possible to hold her accountable for that, while supporting her as an alleged sexual harassment survivor. I, for one, also applaud the grace with which the actresses who choose to support Anurag Kashyap, have come forward with their statements on the matter, including those who have taken legal recourse. Because, really, that is the only dignified way to put your point across.

Let the truth prevail.

Also Read: Kangana Ranaut Calls Urmila Matondkar A “Soft Porn Star”. Even If She Were, Why Is This An Insult? Feminism Takes A Hit

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