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#MeToo: More accusations, denials, legal actions in showbiz

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Vinta Nanda

Mumbai, Oct 10 (IANS) The dark underbelly of showbiz continued to shine bright on Wednesday as well-known women like actors Sandhya Mridul and Amyra Dastur and singer Sona Mohapatra came out about their unsavoury harassment experiences, even as the IFTDA sent a notice to actor Alok Nath who has been accused of rape by writer-producer Vinta Nanda.

A day after Nanda addressed a press conference here, claiming Alok sexually violated her around 19 years ago, Sandhya came out and supported her voice, recounting her own experience with the actor who is known for his ‘sanskaari’ on-screen image.

Sandhya took the social media route to describe her ordeal with Alok during an outdoor shoot, where he would trouble her in an inebriated state.

“The problem is sexual harassment has been open to interpretation. I come from a time when nobody wanted to hear. I was a nobody. When I tried to speak I was labelled arrogant and difficult. And replaced from work. And there was no social media to make ourselves heard, directly. It has taken me years to lay those demons to rest and move on,” said Sandhya.

Alok on Tuesday had addressed Nanda’s claim, calling it “absurd”. His lawyer Ashok Sarogi on Wednesday said the accusations against Alok were false.

On its part, the Indian Film and Television Directors Association (IFTDA) on Wednesday said it has drafted a notice to be sent to Alok, and it has already sent a notice to Vikas Bahl.

Bahl was last year accused of sexual harassment by a former employee of the film collective Phantom Films, for an incident that took place in 2015 in Goa. The allegation resurfaced as the #MeToo movement garnered steam in India.

Kashyap last week came out in support of the allegations in a HuffPost India report and also tweeted about it, while Motwane called Bahl a “sexual offender”.

Bahl, known for “Queen”, has sent a legal notice to his former Phantom Films partners Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane, whom he has called “opportunists” for making “defamatory allegations” in the wake of the ongoing #MeToo movement.

Bahl was last year accused of sexual harassment by a former employee of the film collective Phantom Films, for an incident that took place in 2015 in Goa. The allegation resurfaced as the #MeToo movement garnered steam in India.

Kashyap last week came out in support of the allegations in a HuffPost India report and also tweeted about it, while Motwane called Bahl a “sexual offender”.

Bahl, through two separate but almost similar legal notices dated October 9 and sent to Kashyap and Motwane via email, has “denied all allegations and suggestions” made by them. He has reserved his “right to take appropriate legal action” against them, and claims the statements have been made as a result of professional jealousy and with the sole intent to defame him, malign his image and destroy his career.

While singer Kailash Kher has already been named by a female journalist, Sona came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct too.

“I met Kailash for coffee in Prithvi Café to discuss a forthcoming concert where both our bands were playing and after the usual, a hand on my thigh with lines like, ‘You’re so beautiful’, ‘Feel so good that a musician got you (Ram) not an actor’,” she tweeted.

Amyra came forward to tell IANS that she has faced harassment in Bollywood as well as in the southern film industry.

Citing an incident, Amyra said: “I have had an actor squeeze himself up against me during a shot in a song and whisper in my ear that he was so glad that I was in the film with him. When I threw him off me and refused to speak to him again, he made my experience miserable.

“My director told me to suck it up and honestly couldn’t care less. I was constantly called early to set, made to wait for hours and hours for my shot. I was made to shoot 18 hours a day, I slept for 4-5 hours if I was lucky.”

However, she says she doesn’t have the “guts” to name and shame the people. “Until I don’t feel safe and secure, I won’t point fingers.”

Actor Kay Kay Menon is all for making the society safer by dealing with sexual harassment cases “seriously”.

The world of Indian showbiz has woken up to volley of allegations against prominent names ever since Tanushree Dutta two weeks ago reiterated her experience with veteran actor Nana Patekar on the set of a 2008 film.

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Emphasis on opening weekend biz damaging art of cinema: Swara Bhasker

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Swara Bhaskar

Mumbai, Feb 16 (IANS) Actress Swara Bhasker says the constant emphasis on a films box office collection is damaging the art of cinema.

“The whole system of emphasising the opening weekend business of a film is damaging the art of cinema. I believe there is no connection between the box office collection and the value of a film or to the artistic part of it,” Swara said during a session at ActFest here on Saturday.

“I understand that cinema is an art that involves a huge amount of finance and it demands a steady economy… But the business part of a film should not overpower the core of a cinema — storytelling,” the actress said.

The “Veere Di Wedding” star continued: “Some of the cult films were flops at the box office when they were released. Now, when we revisit those films, we call them classics. I think this system needs to be changed.”

Swara expressed her views during a session with filmmaker Raj Kumar Gupta along with film critics like Rajeev Masand.

ActFest is being organised by the CINTAA (Cine and TV Artistes’ Association). The two-day festival features popular artists participating in discussions, conducting workshops or giving lectures on various aspects of the art. The event, which started on Friday, is conceived and designed by The 48 Hour Film Project, India.

Talking about how film critics’ opinions played a part in her journey, Swara said: “I am grateful to critics because I started my career with small independent films. And when I played some of the pivotal roles like the one in ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ even though that wasn’t a lead role, critics repeatedly mentioned my performance and according to them I was good.”

The actress feels “somewhere positive reviews helped me to gain visibility”.

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Gurugram musical show attracts protest

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Protest Gurugram musical show
Protest during Gurugram musical show (Picture Credit : @DailyWorldChd )

Gurugram, Feb 16 (IANS) Over 500 members of different Hindu organisations held protests at the Leisure Valley Park where a private company had organised a musical show on Saturday.

The protesters claimed it was wrong for the company to organise a musical show for enjoyment and raising funds when the entire country was mourning the death of 49 CRPF troopers, killed in a terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Thursday.

Protesters threatened to disrupt the event if the organisers did not cancel the programme.

“We have written to the Police Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner of Gurugram to initiate the process of cancelling the event. Musical shows are meant for celebration, not when there is sadness across the country. This is not acceptable,” said Pramod Goyal, the convener the of Bharat Tibet Sahyog Manch.

“We have objections over celebration, not against any private company. The time they have chosen for organising the event is wrong. Even if preparations for the event began before Thursday’s terror attack, the organisers should have postponed it and stood with the country to show solidarity,” said Kulbhushan Bhardwaj, senior Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader, who led the protest along with members of Bajrang Dal, Hindu Kranti Dal, Hindu Jagran Manch, Hindu Sena and Shiv Sena.

Subhash Bokan, PRO of Gurugram Police, said: “We are aware of the protest and have deployed extra security personnel at the venue to maintain law and order and prevent loss of property. We are waiting for organisers to take a decision.”

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Navjot Singh Sidhu sacked from The Kapil Sharma Show for comments on Pulwama attack

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Navjot Singh Sidhu
Navjot Singh Sidhu met with harsh criticism after he spoke about the Pulwama terror attack.

New Delhi, Feb 16: Cricketer turned Politician Navjot Singh Sidhu has been sacked from the ‘The Kapil Sharma Show’ following his controversial comments on the Pulwama terror attack.

“The channel has already started with the process of removing Navjot and will replace him with Arachana Puran singh, news agency ANI quoted the sources as saying.

Reacting on the Pulwama terror attack, which left 40 CRPF personnel killed, Sidhu on Friday had stated “For a handful of people, can you blame the entire nation and can you blame an individual? It is a cowardly act and I condemn it firmly. Violence is always condemnable and those who did it must be punished,”.

The former cricketer’s comments were met with harsh criticism and since then social media has been flooded with posts demanding his exit from The Kapil Sharma Show.

Check out some of the tweets below:

This is not the first time Sidhu has landed himself in soup for his soft stand on our neighbouring country.

Sidhu had triggered a controversy last year when he attended Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan’s swearing-in-ceremony. He was much criticised for hugging Pakistan Army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa as well.

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