I was a cub reporter in 2008, assigned by AajTak and Headlines Today to cover the Behind the scenes of a song being shot for this film. When I arrived, I was told shooting had been stalled because the actress, Tanushree Dutta was upset. As I entered the set, I could see that Tanushree was visibly upset about something. #NanaPatekar, choreographer Ganesh Acharya and a man (who I later found was the film’s producer) were having a conversation, while 50-odd dancers sat waiting.
A while later, shooting resumed. Tanushree resumed work, and a couple shots later, #NanaPatekar joined her. Not long after that, Tanushree walked off set. Shooting halted again.
Tanushree remained locked in her vanity van, refusing to come out. Out of nowhere, goons turned up on set and began beating up the vanity van door. I was told the producers had called them to set to help get their money back. Eventually, cops arrived. Amidst this chaos, I got hold of #NanaPatekar to get a sense of what was happening. All he said was, “Meri beti jaisi hai, mere beti jays hai”, which didn’t really make sense at that point.
Eventually, Tanushree’s parents arrived to pick her up. Her car was attacked, the windshield broken. I tried to get in touch with Tanushree to get her version of events. Around midnight, she asked me to come to her place. In tears, she narrated what happened.
She told me that after three days of rehearsals, Ganesh Acharya changed every step on the day of shoot. #NanaPatekar was never meant to be part of the choreography, but coerced the producers into getting him to shake a leg with Dutta. Later, she said, a lewd dance step was introduced on the insistence of #NanaPatekar, so he could touch her inappropriately. That’s where alarm bells rang, and Tanushree decided to walk off set. What she didn’t expect was the aggression shown by the producers.
The memory of my conversation with Tanushree Dutta, hours after the incident, is identical to the account she’s come out with now. How could a person’s version remain the same over a decade later if there wasn’t any truth to it?For everyone who’s either going to be ignoring or downplaying Tanushree Dutta’s account in the coming days, asking why she didn’t speak out earlier – she did. Interviews by Dutta were followed by a press conference called by #NanaPatekar and the film’s producers where she was branded “unprofessional”.
This was a decade ago. It could have possibly been the first instance of a Bollywood actress calling out sexual predators, and her voice by silenced by more powerful men who continued to have flourishing careers. Now she’s found her voice again. Things aren’t the same anymore (even though, they aren’t exactly different either). The #MeToo movement has encouraged women to come out and speak about sexual misconduct in the West – if it’s in turn inspiring women in this country to speak out, so be it.
#TimesUp #SpeakUp #TanushreeDutta #NanaPatekar
Courtesy: Janice Sequiera’s post on her social networking site