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From Preity Zinta To Saif Ali Khan: Celebs Who Got The #MeToo Movement All Wrong

From Preity Zinta To Saif Ali Khan: Celebs Who Got The #MeToo Movement All Wrong

Rani Mukerji's insensitive comments on the #MeToo Movement at a talk show last week was the worst  end to 2018. Tucked inside my blanket and braving the Delhi cold, I went through a range of emotions while watching the Hichki actress victim-blame the survivors. Rani trivialised the #MeToo Movement to a point where she even made mock karate sounds and said all the onus of raising kids lies on their mothers. 


Actress Kangana Ranaut, a sexual harassment survivor herself, responded to Rani Mukerji's comments earlier today. Speaking to a national daily, she said, "Women who need support and need to be empowered, we should empower." However, the actress then diverted into comparison with her on-screen character Rani Laxmibai, and the rest of her statements were ripe with the movie's promotions. 


This has been a pattern in Bollywood lately. Actors have either refused to speak on the subject, or they have made blunders while trying to sound eloquent and aware. However, Rani is not the only one who spoke without a thought about #MeToo Movement in India. Many other celebrities have given statements that were offensive and ignorant. Have a look here.


1. Preity Zinta


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Image source: Instagram


The actress got it all wrong when she infamously let out a giggle when asked if she has experienced any form of harassment during her career. In an interview to promote her movie Bhaiaji Superhit, she then went on to say that the question of MeToo was "a very relevant question because people treat you the way you want to be treated," a remark that didn't go down well with the audience obviously.


In the same interview, the Kal Ho Na Ho actress mentioned that it was important that the #MeToo movement had started, but felt bad because "women are using it when it's not that serious or for personal vendetta or publicity and diluting the movement."


Most survivors don't come out because of the fear of not being believed. Preity Zinta's thinking is a part of the problem and let's hope she has realised this in the aftermath of the interview.


2. Sussanne Khan


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Image source: Instagram


Back in October last year, Sussanne was asked about her opinion on MeToo and she had expressed her reservations on the movement. Sussanne told the media that women shouldn't make allegations on any individual without any legal evidence.


What Sussanne failed to acknowledge was that it isn't easy for everyone to speak up against men in power. Men and women are often cornered and need emotional and structural support to take legal action. Tanushree Dutta, who had tried to talk about Nana Patekar's sexual harassment 10 years ago, was shunned by the industry. Vinta Nanda, who was raped by Alok Nath, went through trauma and couldn't speak about it for years. To dismiss the movement with such an offhand comment is ignorant and insensitive. 


3. Saif Ali Khan


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Image source: Instagram


The Nawab of Pataudi opened up about the #MeToo Movement last year when he said that no one would dare mess with his family, especially with his daughter Sara Ali Khan who made the debut later in 2018. “It is a very unequal society. I don’t think anyone will misbehave with my people," Saif was quoted by a leading daily. "So, we have to protect the ladies who don’t have that protection around them or that aura that protects them. We have to make the place safe for the vulnerable ladies," he added.


What the Sacred Games actor failed to understand is the sexual harassment can take place across all sections of the society - rich or poor, celebrity or commoner. Statistically speaking, about 99 per cent of cases of sexual assault in India go unreported. To assume that sexual abuse can only happen to 'vulnerable' women who do not have a 'protective circle' around them is certainly naive. The question is, why do women even need a protective circle around them? The sexual predators in the society need to be caged and kicked out, so every man, woman and child can be safe no matter their family name and connections.


It is rather convenient and privileged to talk about the movement as something that happens to 'other people'. The Nawab may be forgetting that Alok Nath and Sajid Khan - two people he has closely worked with - have been accused of harassment on the sets.  


4. Abhijeet Bhattacharya


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Image source: Instagram


The singer was accused of sexual harassment last year by former flight attendant Yamini Khanna. She wrote on a Facebook post that Abhijeet had harassed her at a Kolkata nightclub back in about two decades ago. Not only did he deny the allegations, but he also dismissed the MeToo Movement, saying that most people coming out with their assault stories right now are dirty, ugly people. "Koi mota hai koi patla hai," Abhijeet told a leading daily. "Just to grab some attention they are coming out."


Abhijeet allegedly preyed on a woman and then went off to disparage the survivors of the movement. This was a new low, even for the singer who has gained a bad name in the industry because of his misogynistic tweets.


5. Karan Johar


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Image source: Instagram


After what seemed like aeons, the Koffee With Karan host finally broke his silence on the #MeToo Movement. Speaking at a conclave in November, KJo applauded the courage of the women who spoke up. He also reminded people that although some of the industry stalwarts hadn't been vocal about MeToo, they had been supporting it silently. On his show, he even credited Aamir Khan for starting the movement, when in fact, the 3 Idiots actor had nothing to do with it.


Although there have been several leading actors like Akshay Kumar, Hrithik Roshan and Farhan Akhtar who have spoken on the issue and refused to work with people accused of harassment, the Khans and the Bachchans are yet to take a stand. These actors can influence people with as much as a tweet, but they have been silent on the issue and have shied away from speaking about it. 


6. Chetan Bhagat


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Image source: Instagram


The best-selling author was also accused of lewd behaviour and sexual harassment while talking to a woman on WhatsApp. A few days later, Chetan Bhagat went online and apologised for his behaviour. However, in his apology, he added that he 'misread' the friendliness and 'was going through a phase.' He also added that he was 'wooing' the woman and initiating such conversations as part of his conversations around his upcoming book, One Indian Girl.


There is no excuse for sexual harassment. Period.


7. The AIB Team and Phantom Films


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Image source: Instagram


Although people like Tanmay Bhatt and Anurag Kashyap are staunch supporters of women's issues and the #MeToo Movement, we feel that both of them failed to act when the time was right. AIB was caught brushing the issue under the carpet when comic Utsav Chakraborty and co-founder Gursimran Khamba were called out for sexual harassment in separate cases. Tanmay Bhatt admitted that he knew about the cases, but had not taken any action at the time.


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Similarly, filmmakers Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane were also accused of inaction against fellow-director and Phantom Films founder Vikas Bahl, who was accused of harassment on the sets of Queen by an employee as well as Kangana Ranaut. Both AIB and Phantom Films were dissolved soon after the cases were reported.


The #MeToo Movement supports people who have been sexually harassed and ensures that it doesn't happen again. As much as it is about standing up against crime, it is also about standing beside those who have endured such trauma. When big names celebrities flutter their flags without realising the implications of their words, they are in danger of diluting the hard work of thousands of people across the world.


If you want to read all about the #MeToo Movement in India, click here.


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Published on Jan 3, 2019
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