'AT LEAST LIS­TEN TO HER, DON'T DOUBT THE IN­TEN­TION'

How­ever, Farhan Akhtar cau­tions a false ac­cu­sa­tion in #MeToo is a sin

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - Live - - FRONT PAGE - Monika Rawal Kukreja ■ monika.rawal@htlive.com

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

PHOTO: ABHEET GIDWANI

Farhan Akhtar re­cently at­tended the Hin­dus­tan Times Lead­er­ship Sum­mit in Delhi

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