Bol­ly­wood ac­tor can­cels film shoot to sup­port In­dia’s Metoo move­ment

The Daily Telegraph - - World News - By Sap­tarshi Ray in New Delhi

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.

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