ll sexual harassment incidents should be highlighted equally: Payal Rohatgi recalls her ordeal – In the wake of Tanushree Dutta’s allegations that Nana Patekar reportedly ‘sexually harassed’ her during the shooting of Horn ‘OK’ Pleassss in 2008, a number of celebrities like Kangana Ranaut, Farhan Akhtar, Sonam K Ahuja and Anurag Kashyap have come out in support of the Aashiq Banaya Aapne (2005) actress. Tanushree also revealed that filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri allegedly told her, ‘Jao jaake kapde utaar ke naacho’ during the shooting of Chocolate (2005).
After Hrs spoke to Payal Rohatgi, who had, in 2011, accused filmmaker Dibakar Banerjee of reportedly trying to take advantage of her in lieu of his then-upcoming film Shanghai, for which she had screen-tested.
Having worked and interacted with Tanushree in movies such as 36 China Town (2004) and Dhol (2007), Payal says, “As a woman, I want to believe her and want her story to be heard. It’s similar to my story when I spoke about a director’s inappropriate behaviour with me. But many people believed that since he’s a good filmmaker, he’s a good human being as well; forgetting that profession and work ethics are different from what one is as a person. Back then, directors like Anurag Kashyap and Sudhir Mishra called me mentally unstable. And, now, Anurag has spoken in support of Tanushree. However, when the name of director Vivek Agnihotri came up, I felt this was getting a political colour.”
Probe her further about ‘the political flavour comment’ and Payal states, “Feminism in India is very fake. People hold placards to protest against a rape allegedly in a ‘Devasthan’, but those same feminists don’t speak against the rape of a nun. Just because of the #MeToo movement in Hollywood, after Oscar-winning actresses including Angelina Jolie came out and spoke against Harvey Weinstein, we also want to talk about something that has been happening in Bollywood for long; like several years ago, Mamta Kulkarni had spoken against filmmaker Rajkumar Santoshi.”
Recalling how she was shred to pieces when she had raised her voice against Dibakar, Payal says, “It did affect me, but I didn’t give up. I didn’t do films for a few years, instead, I took up reality shows. There are a lot of criteria when people want to support you and when they don’t want to. I fail to understand why the #MeToo campaign in India didn’t gain momentum when Malayalam actor Dileep was arrested after an actress was abducted and assaulted or when Telugu actress Sri Reddy was banned for talking about sexual harassment. These instances were more deserving of the #MeToo movement than anything else.”
Coming back to Tanushree’s allegations, Payal sums it, “We should be talking if an incident like this happens, but we should treat all such instances equally, not selectively.”