Preity Zinta, you were my favourite actress as a teenager, till this morning when you drove a monster truck through this rosey image of you, crushing every bit of respect I had for you. Sounds over dramatic? I don't think so. As a Bollywood star who has been in the industry for over two decades, you could have spoken from an authentic and deeper standpoint about the #MeToo movement that took down Bollywood's big and bad men. While promoting your upcoming film, Bhaiaji Superhit you were a part of a Rapid Fire round on Bollywood Hungama's portal. But when asked about the safety of women in the industry, these were your words.
"There are a lot of people who are ready to do anything for a role. If I go stand in the middle of the road and say aa baile mujhe marr, or aa car run me over. Someone is going to run me over because it is the middle of the road. So you have to manage your expectations. If you are ready to do anything then you can't blame people."
Argh. Doesn't it make you really angry when women victim shame? Before my head combusts, let's take a quick look at the current situation in terms of facts. Tanushree Dutta, Bipasha Basu, Sandhya Mridul, Anushree Majumdar, along with many other unnamed anonymous women spoke up against the predators in the industry. Are you implying that these women were 'asking for it'? The definition of rape, assault, and harassment states that it is non-consensual. Victim shaming means that the victim of any wrongful act is held accountable for what happened to them. And this is what you are doing. Accusing someone for being raped, assaulted or harassed by a predator in the industry. Because it seems simpler to blame the length of her dress, how deep her cleavage is and the roles she plays on the big screen, than the men of Bollywood who have been wrongfully idolised.
Remember how you filed a case against your ex-boyfriend, Ness Wadia in 2014? You stated that Ness Wadia had allegedly molested and abused you at Wankhede stadium in front of your team and the crowd. What if you hadn't received the support you did at that point? Being a survivor, don't you believe victims deserve respect and justice, in a manner similar to your own.
As someone who has influence over a million fans, including me at one point, I can safely say that I am disappointed in the fact that you said all of this with a smile on your face and unabashed confidence. In your previous interviews, when asked about being a feminist, you have mentioned that you aren't sensitive and will voice your concerns on justice, however, you aren't a 'bra-burning psychotic chick.' P.S. The bra-burning feminists, 200 of them, changed civil rights for women with the Miss America Protest. But you probably still had your head stuck under the ground like some Ostrich, or worse still, you choose to not know about these things.
For you to say that you love your industry and you did not come across any of these problems because 'you' managed to keep your head straight, makes it seem that either you continue to have your head deep in some wooly depths of ignorance, or that you deliberately don't want to upset anyone just in case the few roles that are coming your way, stop too. Did you even hear yourself when you said, "I think Bollywood is one of the safest places in the world"?
Alok Nath, Kailash Kher, Nana Patekar, Vikas Bahl, Rajat Kapoor, Sajid Khan, Subhash Ghai and Luv Ranjan are men who have been a part of the film industry for years now. You even shared screen space with Alok Nath in Dil Hai Tumhara, where he played a sanskaari father. Are you telling us that you didn't have an inkling to this side of his character? Instead of supporting women who are finally speaking up in an industry that has known all along about these predators, you're turning around and shaming the women? Calling them out for trying to make it big in the industry.
The #MeToo movement is one of the most important things that has happened to the industry, giving the women who stayed quiet all these years the strength and courage they needed to discuss their survivor stories. And your opinion on the matter is clearly as low as the Zimmerman knock-off you're wearing. In a nation where 99% of the assault cases go unreported, I would be grateful if you stopped shaming the ones who do report their incidents.
Do your homework and read about the survivor stories. Or, at least have 10 grams of sensitivity, so the next time you are asked about the #MeToo Movement in India, you don't laugh it off with such utter ignorance and detachment.
I hope this letter reaches you, and in the words of Munna Bhai, get well soon.
Featured Image: Instagram
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