Bollywood actor cancels film shoot to support India’s Metoo movement
A BOLLYWOOD star has shut down production of his latest film over claims of sexual harassment against two members of the cast and crew, as #Metoo sweeps the industry in India.
Akshay Kumar said he refused to work with anyone accused of sexual harassment until the claims against them were investigated. Minutes later, Sajid Khan, the director of the movie Housefull 4, said he was taking “moral responsibility” to step down.
Khan and Nana Patekar, a cast member, were among the first to be accused of sexual misconduct in a groundswell of allegations against men in the spheres of entertainment, media and politics in the past two weeks.
Kumar became the biggest name yet to back the movement, writing on Twitter: “This is something that requires stringent action. I will not work with any proven offenders and all those who have been subjugated to harassment should be heard, and given the justice they deserve.”
Patekar was accused of sexually predatory behaviour by Tanushree Dutta, an actress, during the shooting of a film 10 years ago. Khan was alleged to have harassed three female journalists. Both deny the allegations.
Patekar said: “I would say what I said 10 years back, the truth doesn’t change.” The actor has also sent Dutta a legal notice.
Among other claims, Rachel White, a journalist, said that Khan told her she could get a role in his film in 2014 if she could “seduce him in five minutes”.
The claims were denied by Khan, who said he would resign, “till the time I can allay the allegations”.
Earlier, Twinkle Khanna, Kumar’s actress wife, had written on Twitter: “Appalled hearing multiple incidents of harassment, and it is truly horrific to hear what these women have been through. Everyone involved in Housefull needs to take a firm stance on this issue. This cannot go on.”
On Thursday, Subhash Ghai, a veteran Bollywood producer and director, was accused of sexual assault. He vehemently denied the claims. A cabinet minister has also been accused of similar behaviour.
Maneka Gandhi, the women’s minister, has proposed that a legal panel be set up to look specifically into the #Metoo allegations. “I believe in all of them,” she said.