Richa Chadha Is Okay Working With #MeToo Accused Director Subhash Kapoor In Madam Chief Minister. But It’s Still Problematic
Madam Chief Minister is a film about a Dalit woman overcoming all odds and naysayers to be appointed to the highest post in state government. While this story, loosely based on the life of former Uttar Pradesh CM, Mayawati, gives off a strong scent of women empowerment, the fact that the film is directed by Subhash Kapoor, once upon a time named in the #MeToo wave, might introduce a stench of doubt in it. However, actor Richa Chadha, who is headlining the film, says she had no qualms about this, since she does not set store by social media trials.
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Undoubtedly, Madam Chief Minister comes with a lot of baggage that makes it hard to view it in isolation. There’s already been a controversy surrounding its now pulled down poster, and the casting of a non-Dalit actor in the lead role. Add to that the controversy surrounding its director, and you’ve got a very awkward setting.
Also Read: 5 Thoughts I Had About The ‘Madam Chief Minister’ Trailer: Richa Chadha Film Comes With A Lot Of Problematic Baggage.
Here’s a little refresher of what went down. In 2012, actress Geetika Tyagi accused filmmaker Subhash Kapoor of sexual misconduct, proceeding to file a case against him in 2014. Kapoor was arrested and produced in court, and granted bail, all within a day’s span. He was set to direct Mogul, a film with Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao as producers. At first, they backed out, and then just as abruptly, returned as producers on the film. At present, we do not know what’s the status of the case filed against Subhash Kapoor, nor do we know if the allegations were investigated and proved to be false. And since our judiciary believes in ‘innocent until proven guilty’ Subhash Kapoor, for all intents and purposes, is a free man currently.
Richa Chadha has been a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement. So naturally, it does beg the question why she chose to work in Kapoor’s film, since even though he hasn’t been proven guilty, he hasn’t been proven not guilty either, right? To this Richa has said that since the case is still sub judice, we all must respect the law, and continue to treat Kapoor as innocent until he is proven otherwise. Besides, she doesn’t believe in social media trials.
On paper, what Richa Chadha is doing seems a very fair thing. In reality, however, I’ve seen this ethic being exercised with major gender bias. While the men run free and without any consequences, the women who’ve come forth end up facing not just ridicule and character assassination but lack of opportunities in the workspace and ostracisation. Look at what’s happening with Chinmayi Sripada, trolled for calling out Karthik, a composer named in the #MeToo movement, it working with the likes of Mani Ratnam in a Netflix anthology, while she continues to not get work because she is outspoken.
Also Read: Singer Chinmayi Shares The 17th #MeToo Story Against Lyricist Vairamuthu. Why Is No Action Being Taken?
On Monday morning, Farah Khan tweeted about how Rhea Chakraborty must be feeling vindicated watching what is happening to Arnab Goswami. To this, an author replied that ultimately Arnab would manage to avoid accountability, while Rhea, who has been to jail, will have no career in Bollywood. Soni Razdan responded to this claim in support of Rhea, and said that since she has not been proven guilty of anything, why should she not get films?
And isn’t that also fair? If a Subhash Kapoor can make films with a star like Richa Chadha because he’s out on bail in a case that is sub judice, then shouldn’t Rhea Chakraborty also be accorded the same platform to earn her living?
It’s safe to say that the #MeToo movement has been a colossal failure where it really mattered. Has it convicted the people accused of rape and sexual harassment? No. But has it at least managed to deter men from crimes against women? Also no. But hang on, it must’ve ensured that women find an environment that is empowering and makes them feel safe enough to speak up? I wish I could say yes, but sadly, it’s a no here too. While the conviction of one Harvey Weinstein is a massive victory, there are still so many predators who roam free, without any accountability.
Also Read: #MeToo: Model Dimple Paul Shares Details Of Sajid Khan’s Alleged Sexual Misconduct. Why Is He Still Not Being Investigated?
Recently, a BBC documentary that was tracking Bollywood actor Jiah Khan’s death dropped its first episode. In it, the Housefull actor’s younger sister revealed all the disgusting ways that filmmaker and #MeToo accused Sajid Khan allegedly harassed Jiah and even herself, who was a teen at the time. Twitter outrage on why no action had been taken against the Bollywood insider sparked, and someone pointed out that nothing would change. Some 2-3 years later, we’d see Sajid directing another shitty comedy like nothing happened. The problem with the #MeToo wave in India is that names were supposedly cleared behind closed-door inquiries and proceedings (read Vikas Bahl) and suddenly men like Vikas Bahl and Alok Nath were back to work.
Social media trials are a a horrible way to seek justice. But it is surely a place that ensures some amount of transparency. It is also the birthplace of this movement, and therefore, has the power to enforce accountability where necessary.