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Yet another person to trivialise and silence the #MeToo movement is Nawazuddin Siddiqui. His statements made me wonder, how entrenched is this behaviour?
Right from the start, the #MeToo in Bollywood took the industry by a storm after major names in the industry were finally called out. But with this, also came the backlash and outcry against the movement as several celebrities tried to silence the movement. Among these, most recently is Nawazuddin Siddiqui who undermined and tried to trivialise the movement in an interview with Pinkvilla.
“Everyone thinks they are talented. This industry is beautiful because it also makes a non-talented person into a star…There needs to be something extraordinary in you,’’ he said in reference to the movement. During the interview, he cast doubt on the concept of ‘casting couches’ and claimed ‘people are trying to frame the industry.’
In addition, I found it equally shocking that he downplayed the toxic culture of sexual abuse in the industry. I was stunned to hear him calling sexual allegations of harassment, physical and verbal abuse supposed ‘publicity stunts.’ On the whole, what is surprising is that many of the figures who were at the forefront of the ire continue to roam free without the accountability for their actions.
This behaviour does not come as a shock when we look at patterns in the past when women were labelled ‘insecure’ for speaking out against sexual abuse and assault. It seems to stick to the ‘jilted woman’ narrative that has become an unintentional consequence of the #MeToo movement; especially for those who fail to recognise patterns of abuse.
The ‘jilted woman’ as such, became common during the Victorian era, with the so-called ‘myth of the jilted woman.’ Upon digging further, I realised that the word meant, ‘an unchaste woman’ who was known for ‘’capriciously casting a lover aside.’ This once again fed into the victim-blaming narrative that has become so unfortunately normalised in discussing sexual abuse and rape.
This only seeks to further establish the narrative that women are either ’emotional’ or ‘insecure’ for speaking up about their trauma. And this manner of thinking has become rather ubiquitous in spite of the progress that #MeToo has made. Here, there are often unknown and uncorroborated allegations are seen as unfounded and these become a character assassination of sorts to silence women.
Fans are disillusioned by Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s behaviour and warped thinking. First it was by his divorce and reported mistreatment of his wife Aaliya. And later with his derisive comments about the movement. Thus, it is important to understand the cycle of abuse and the checkered past of the Siddiqui family that has recently been in reported in the news and on social media.
Recently, Siddiqui’s niece has also been at the forefront of abuse allegations against his family, echoing many of Aaliya’s own sentiments and grievances. Earlier this month, Pinkvilla also reported that his niece filed a sexual harassment case against his brother. The report further said that she was unable to receive any kind of support from him.
It is high time we call out the real elephant in the room. We need to understand why and how such issues continue to be shoved under the rug. And how industry figures should call out this culture and further promote the headway and progress that the movement has made thus far.
When some of the figures in the industry do the movement a disservice, how is the message meant to spread to the masses? As we seem to continuously gaslight these issues, we don’t just suppress voices, we silence the others who have gathered courage to finally speak.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Gangs of Wasseypur
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Shivani is currently an undergraduate political science student who is passionate about human rights and
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