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Anurag Kashyap and Co’s company Phantom Films was dissolved recently, as firing partner Vikas Bahl for misconduct was not a clause included in their partnership contract. What does it say about how we prioritise ‘business’ over women?
Phantom films – that ‘edgy’ Bollywood production house set up by directors Vikas Bahl, Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane and producer Madhu Mantena, the one that made all those path-breaking and emancipating movies we loved…turns out that this ‘progressive’ firm did not have the option in their contracts for ‘firing partners over sexual misconduct’.
The victim who was an employee at the time, came out in the open and accused Vikas Bahl, Director of Queen, of sexually assaulting her, after spending many agonising years in therapy. It helped that Kangana Ranaut spoke up too. Of course, Anurag Kashyap of Udta Punjab, Manmarziyaan and Sacred Games fame knew all about it. The victim had spoken to him privately. Yet, he chose the path of ‘do-nothing’. The company was dissolved a couple of days back when Vikas Bahl was finally in the dock.
At the end of it all, it is just business – pure economics. Money matters! And How! Bahl wasn’t just an employee who could be terminated. He was the partner who brought in movies and controlled the company to the same extent as the rest of them.
Even in the case of employees, why do firms find it difficult to terminate the services of the transgressors? It’s due to their monetary value or utility value to the company which obviously will outweigh the social brownie points. Or the cost of finding an equally qualified employee who will eventually bring in the same returns after the mandatory time delay. These losses are again far more countable than just a pat on the back for having done the right thing. Social standing is insignificant compared to soaring balance sheets.
The final nail in the coffin is making the victim accountable for the loss of revenue in case she presses ahead for justice. Because justice could involve the firing of the said employee or even dissolving companies. Thereby she is considered responsible for the loss of jobs for people unconnected with her personal trauma and uninvested in it.
As for the alleged perpetrators and those who enabled them – your sitting on the truth for years and then take to Twitter or Facebook to issue wishy-washy ‘sorries’ is so lame. That doesn’t help in healing. Rather than adopting a “Yeh toh chalta hai, that this happens all around, forget and move on as livelihoods are at stake” attitude, you need to see how you can contribute to a safer workplace ecosystem for women to thrive.
More skeletons are tumbling out, as women are finally speaking up by gathering courage from the many sordid tales emerging. One hopes that the men who are now showing some circumspection will not go back to being silent spectators and ‘business as usual’.
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Anupama Jain is the author of 'When Padma Bani Paula', a breezy novel about second
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