In­dian di­rec­tor de­nies #MeToo claims, threat­ens film­mak­ers

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

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.

Vikas Bahl

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