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In A Misogynist Bollywood, MeToo Accused Alok Nath Continues To Find Work. Shame!

Posted: April 3, 2019

When #MeToo allegations about Kevin Spacey surfaced, Ridley Scott was quick to reshoot scenes with another actor, weeks before his film’s release. But in India, the flag of patriarchy flies high as Alok Nath still finds work.

For many women shamed and coerced into silence, India’s second #MeToo wave (the first was led by Raya Sarkar) which started with Tanushree Dutta’s allegations against Nana Patekar, was a signal of hope that things would change. Writer-Director Vinta Nanda,  had at the time accused Alok Nath, the “sanskaari babuji” of Bollywood, of sexual harassment. Actor Renuka Shahane had also supported Vinta Nanda at the time.

Unfortunately, those hopes seem to have been dashed to the ground recently. Earlier this year it was reported that Alok Nath, ironically, would be playing a judge in a movie based on the #MeToo movement. He also has a role in Ajay Devgn’s upcoming movie De De Pyaar De.

Ajay Devgn when asked about it, responded, “This is not the right place to talk about it and the film’s shoot was completed way before the allegations surfaced against the person.”

People were quick to point out that this response is far from satisfactory.

Some like Sandhya Ramesh, tweeted their utter frustration for the lack of accountability.

Some like Twitter user Shamini were quick to point out that every platform is the right platform to discuss important issues like sexual harassment.

While Ajay Devgn may be correct in pointing out that the shoot of the movie was completed before the allegations, it does not mean that those portions in which Alok Nath appears cannot be reshot. They have had plenty of time to do so. In fact, the example of Ridley Scott replacing Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer in his movie, All The Money In The World, just weeks before its release, after Spacey was accused of sexual harassment, comes to mind. Spacey was also quickly replaced in the award winning Netflix series House of Cards.

The handle @IndiaMeToo, curated by independent journalist Rituparna Chatterjee, was quick to point out that men have always been given a free pass, and easily forgiven, while women continue to be shamed and silenced.

One only has to contrast this with Radha Ravi’s recent slut shaming of Nayanthara to see the truth in this. Alok Nath has been accused of rape; Nayanthara’s only “crime” is having played glamourous roles. And yet there are people who believe that she is unfit to play Sita, while Alok Nath continues to play any role he wants. The hypocrisy is shameful.

Hollywood’s celebrities have constantly stood up and spoken in favour of progressive causes and against sexual harassment and other injustices, and have even criticized President Trump for his policies. As opposed to this, some celebrities in India stay silent on issues that matter, or worse, like in this case, support the wrongdoers. Bollywood’s heroes who flex muscles and mouth dialogues with flair on screen, do seem to lack a spine in real life.

I am not one to promote aping the West, but if we do copy Hollywood, let it be for the good things!

Meanwhile, the trailer of De De Pyaar Deitself is one that I cringed all the way through. The story, about an older man falling in love with a woman his daughter’s age, seems to pit the younger woman (Rakul Preet) against the older ex-wife, played by Tabu. This patriarchal plot line passing as “comedy” can only come from the table of Luv Ranjan, who himself has been accused of sexual harassment.

All that any of this proves is that we have miles to go before Bollywood becomes a better place for women.

Image source: YouTube

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Vijayalakshmi Harish is a book blogger and writer. To paraphrase her librarian, she is a

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