Indian director denies #MeToo claims, threatens filmmakers
Mumbai, India - A prominent Bollywood director accused of sexual harassment denied the allegations on Wednesday as he threatened to sue two fellow filmmakers for defamation over the case which has helped fuel India’s #MeToo movement.
Vikas Bahl is accused of assaulting an employee of Phantom Films - an edgy production house behind Netflix’s first original Indian series, Sacred Games - in a hotel in 2015.
In accusations published on HuffPost India on Saturday, the unnamed woman said Bahl had insisted on escorting her to her room and pretended to pass out drunk on her bed.
Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane, who along with Bahl and another filmmaker founded Phantom Films, released statements on Twitter later that day backing the woman. The report came after they had announced they were dissolving the production company on Friday.
Bahl issued a denial through his lawyer on Wednesday in his first public statement responding to the allegation.
A legal notice released to the media said Bahl ‘denies all allegations’. ‘Vikas Bahl issues defamation notice to Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane threatening civil and criminal action’, it added. The notice accused Kashyap and Motwane of ‘professional rivalry and jealously’ and of trying to jeopardise the release of Bahl’s upcoming film Super 30. It called for them to withdraw the claims and issue an apology or face being sued.
The year-old #MeToo movement has finally gathered steam in India in recent days with Bollywood figures, a federal minister, several comedians and top journalists among those accused of abusing their positions to behave improperly towards women.
The spark was Hindi film actress Tanushree Dutta, who in a recent interview accused wellknown Bollywood actor Nana Patekar of inappropriate behaviour on a film set ten years ago. He denies the allegations.
The HuffPost article on Bahl appeared before a host of women journalists accused M J Akbar, a well-known former editor and now a junior foreign minister in Narendra Modi’s government of sexual harassment.
Akbar is yet to comment publicly on the allegations and the government is yet to issue a response.