Over a month since the #MeToo movement triggered a much-needed dialogue in the country, it was almost imperative to go back and chat with the woman whose story started it all — Tanushree Dutta. Though her account of being sexually harassed by Nana Patekar on the set of Horn Ok Pleassss (2008) inspired a sea of women to come forward and name their sexual perpetrators, the movement appears to be unfortunately petering out.
But Dutta insists the revolution is here to stay. "This is a spark that has ignited the consciousness of people. True, the initial burst is over, but now it will remain in people's minds and help cleanse the industry. The movement started with Bollywood and then, women, who never thought they would speak up, came forward."
While it was heartening to see the industry adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment, it wasn't hard to miss how several big names maintained a studied silence on the subject. Point out the dichotomy, and she says, "People have been conditioned to think that it's okay for men to behave inappropriately and actresses have to compromise without complaining.
Fortunately, the newer generation is opinionated and will phase out the patriarchal thinking. People have been dropped from projects, studios have become careful to not hire names that are accused. [Having said that,] it's disappointing that not many actresses have spoken up on the matter. They probably gave themselves over to their ambitions. Some stories of Swara [Bhasker] and Kangana's [Ranaut] struggles have been chronicled, but several others disappeared."
Admitting that her police complaint against Patekar is moving at a "slow pace", she says that the environment doesn't encourage women to take a legal recourse.
"The cases go on for decades, and society stigmatises the victim. Even in my case, it took me four hours when I went to record my statement. After that, I was trolled and got legal notices. No arrests have been made so far."