'AT LEAST LISTEN TO HER, DON'T DOUBT THE INTENTION'
However, Farhan Akhtar cautions a false accusation in #MeToo is a sin
Farhan Akhtar, the first Bollywood actor to support Tanushree Dutta after she levelled sexual harassment charges against Nana Patekar, made way for many more to take a stand. “… Her courage should be admired, not her intention questioned,” he had tweeted. Now, in an exclusive chat with us, the actor opens up about what propelled him to take to the social media urging people to listen to Tanushree Dutta’s story and not jump to conclusions.
‘WE’LL HEAR MORE STORIES’
Calling these episodes “very unfortunate,” Farhan says, “If the woman has decided to speak up, least we can do is listen to what she has to say. My biggest annoyance was even before we listened [to her story], people were insinuating that ‘because her career was over, she still wants attention’. I found that in really bad taste.”
Farhan assumes “more such stories will come out, this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
He didn’t deny that it was Tanushree’s version and there would be “someone with a different story,” but urged people not to question those speaking up. “They have already been through enough and had to find this courage to be able to speak. Please listen to them patiently, don’t doubt their intention.”
However, Farhan points out the flip side, too. “If a woman levels a false accusation against someone that is later proved to be false, (it) would be doing a serious disservice to all women who are speaking up honestly. It’s a sin.” Hence, it’s also a “huge responsibility” on women to ensure they look out for men who may be falsely accused at times, he adds.
THE BIG LEARNING
With #MeToo movement spreading out in Bollywood, Farhan hopes production houses take immediate action. “I genuinely hope most of them have set up [as per the Vishakha guidelines] the code of conduct that needed to be set up in all offices. So, if someone has any kind of complaint, it’s dealt with appropriately.”
If the production team fails to address the concerns of a victim, Farhan feels it’s crucial artists’ associations offer help. “Film Producer’s Guild or CINTAA should have sections in their organisations to which a person can turn to... The guild can then put pressure on the production company.”
WORK WITH ACCUSED?
Tanushree had urged big stars to set an example by refusing to work with sexual offenders (in this case, Nana Patekar). Farhan says it’s the personal call of the director or producer. “I hope people use their better judgment when... they make these calls of working with certain people.”
On whether it’s fair to boycott an accused, Farhan says, “If accusations are proved to be true, there will be a repercussion in itself. Maybe that person will get work, but not the kind they’re probably hoping for. There will be some amount of payback.”
I find it difficult to say if somebody wants to work with someone, that they should not. They’re answerable to their own conscience. So, it’s a grey area of ethics, morality and legality
FARHAN AKHTAR ACTOR
Farhan Akhtar recently attended the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in Delhi