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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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Virat’s wedding anniversary post for Anushka is winning the internet

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Mumbai, Dec 11: It was a year ago that Indian skipper Virat Kohli and Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma married in a dreamy Tuscany, Italy.

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On completing a year of togetherness on Tuesday, Virat Kohli shared the wedding photographs wished wifey, Anushka Sharma, a happy anniversary and called her his “best friend and soulmate”.

“Can’t believe it’s been a year already because it feels like it happened just yesterday. Time has truly flown by. Happy anniversary to my best friend and my soulmate. Mine forever. Anushka Sharma.”; Virat tweeted.

Anushka shared her wedding video, where an ecstatic Kohli is seen referring to the actress as his “wife”. He also says that he now feels like a “grown up”.

The “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” star captioned the video: “It’s heaven, when you don’t sense time passing by… It’s heaven, when you marry a good ‘man’.”

Virat and Anushka are currently in Australia. Anushka had reached Australia a few days earlier to celebrate the anniversary with Kohli, who is currently leading the Indian Cricket Team against Austraila.

The star couple fondly called as “Virushka” by their fans, tied the knot on December 11, 2017, in Tuscany, Italy.

Happy Wedding Anniversary to Mr and Mrs Kohli !!

Anushka-Virat-wedding

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I don’t feel any pressure, but have responsibility towards acting: Ranveer Singh

Ranveer has a filmography boasting of titles like like “Band Baaja Baaraat”, “Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl”, “Lootera”, “Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela”, “Bajirao Mastani”, “Dil Dhadakne Do” and “Padmaavat”.

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New Delhi, Dec 11 : Hopes are high from newly-married Ranveer Singh, who is set to woo quintessential Bollywood fans with “Simmba” later this month. After eight years of entertaining audiences, the actor says he does not feel any pressure to deliver his best as he sees it as a responsibility towards what he loves doing — acting.

Ranveer has a filmography boasting of titles like like “Band Baaja Baaraat”, “Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl”, “Lootera”, “Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela”, “Bajirao Mastani”, “Dil Dhadakne Do” and “Padmaavat”.

Asked if he feels pressure with so many hopes riding on him, Ranveer told IANS in an e-mail interaction from Mumbai: “I have been fortunate enough to experience both highs and lows. (I have been) Lucky and blessed that there have been more highs than lows, but I’m glad that the lows were there because they taught me a lot.”

The actor, who faced failure with films like “Befikre” and “Kill Dil”, says it taught him that filmmaking is a collaborative process.

“According to me, whether it’s my most successful film or least successful film — I know in my heart of hearts that I tried my best, I performed with all honesty and never gave less than a 100 per cent. If a film did not work, that is not in my hands. From my point of view, my perspective, I gave it everything.

“For a film to become a hit or a flop, there are many variables and many factors. That said, I don’t get pressurised. I see it as a responsibility to what I love doing,” he said.

Ranveer, who tied the knot with his long-time lady love Deepika Padukone in November, says he feels responsible when filmmakers come to him for collaborations.

“When filmmakers collaborate with me, I only assume that they expect me to bring something to the table creatively and I like that. I appreciate that the finest filmmakers look upon me as a collaborator. It’s something to be proud of and so I feel responsible,” said Ranveer, who has worked under the direction of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Zoya Akhtar, Aditya Chopra and Vikramaditya Motwane.

As a performer, Ranveer said his effort is always to make people associated with him proud.

“I want to make my fans, family, my team everybody who is directly or indirectly connected to me, my life, my career — proud. So, I feel responsible in that way. So yes, I don’t feel pressurised, but I definitely do feel responsible,” he added.

Ranveer, who has been feted with the “entertainer of the year” award by a magazine, has a bag full of films coming up. His next his “Simmba”, where he is playing a flamboyant police officer. Then there’s “Gully Boy”, “’83” and a period drama “Takht”.

The actor’s last Bollywood outing was Bhansali’s “Padmaavat”, in which he essayed the role of Alauddin Khilji. Ranveer upped his own game with his powerful acting and eccentric mannerisms in the film, and captivated cine-goers with his stand-out performance, which set the bar higher for Bollywood villains.

Would he like to play an anti-hero again?

“Khilji’s part was mentally and emotionally taxing for me. I don’t think I’m keen on going into the dark space again anytime soon. That said, I want to keep doing different things. I will explore new characters that have a fresh set of layers to play. I never say never, but probably not anytime soon,” he said.

Ranveer was in fact advised by many people to not play Khilji.

“The rationale behind that was pretty convincing. They rationalised saying how audiences are very emotional, they even draw lines between actors and stars. If they love a character, they will shower the love on who played the character and if they hate the character, that hate will come upon the actor.”

But the 33-year-old star saw it differently.

“I trusted the audience, I trusted their maturity and the fact that they have evolved over time that they can see the performance for what it is. I felt that if I do this part well, they will appreciate me as an actor. I’m glad I trusted the audience and my trust in them paid off. It was a huge risk, but I’m never one to play it safe. So I’m glad I took the risk,” he said.

(Durga Chakravarty can be contacted at [email protected])

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A web show is no less than a film: Actor Ali Fazal

Ali has appeared in Hollywood film “Furious 7”, and has travelled with his movies to various international film festivals.

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Ali Fazal

Mumbai, Dec 11 : Working in American TV show “Bollywood Hero” to sharing screen space with Oscar-winning veteran actress Judi Dench in the British-American film “Victoria & Abdul”, making a mark in Bollywood in the beginning of his career with his presence in the National Award-winning film “3 Idiots” to becoming a part of web series “Mirzapur”, actor Ali Fazal has successfully dabbled in different realms of the entertainment world.

The actor says the entertainment industry going through a positive transformation where the lines between web series and feature films are blurring to celebrate good stories over screen size.

“I think this transformation is a natural progression that was bound to happen. Now, a web show is no less than a film. This is the same phase Hollywood went through five years ago when, whether it was OTT (over-the-top) platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime or even television, they offered their audience… great content. That time, cinema faced a challenge…

“Now, globally, the youth is smart enough to consume content on their smartphones, smart TV and the demand for content is increasing,” added the “Fukrey” actor.

Ali has appeared in Hollywood film “Furious 7”, and has travelled with his movies to various international film festivals.

According to the actor, though India is a nation that celebrates cinema on the big screen more, the constant demand for good content by the audience has led content makers to invest in quality production to match the international level.

“That is precisely the reason why, these days, we get to see the extensive promotion and publicity of even web shows, and those are as good as those of a feature film. Perhaps that is why a large audience waits for the digital release of a film, rather than its theatrical release, unless it is an event film that demands to be experienced on the big screen,” said the “Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi” actor.

A question arises on why “content-driven Indian films” that get wide recognition internationally hardly survive in Indian theatres?

“Well, in Hollywood, superhero films are commercial potboilers but they also give space for films that win awards like Oscar, Golden Globe and travel to film festivals. Abroad, there is room for every film because every story has its audience. In our country, it is success driven… If a film earns box office numbers, the film will be in the theatre — whether it is artistically good or not. The good thing is, that is changing now,” Ali said.

The actor has been widely lauded for essaying the role of a gangster named Guddu Pandit in the Amazon Prime web series “Mirzapur”. Its second season will be out in 2019.

Produced by Excel Entertainment, the show features Pankaj Tripathi, Vikrant Messay, Shweta Tripathi and Divyendu Sharma.

Ali has also finished shooting for Tigmanshu Dhulia’s “Milan Talkies” and another feature film, “Prassathanam”, which also features Manisha Koirala and Sanjay Dutt.

(Arundhuti Banerjee can be contacted at [email protected]ans.in)

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