Actor Farhan Akhtar recently attended the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in Delhi.
Actor Farhan Akhtar recently attended the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in Delhi.

Farhan Akhtar on #MeToo movement: At least hear the woman, don’t doubt her intention

However, actor-filmmaker Farhan Akhtar cautions that a false accusation in #MeToo is a sin and a disservice to those women who are honestly speaking up.
By Monika Rawal Kukreja | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON OCT 11, 2018 12:38 PM IST

Farhan Akhtar, the first Bollywood actor to support Tanushree Dutta after she levelled sexual harassment charges against Nana Patekar, made way for many more to take a stand. “…Her courage should be admired, not her intention questioned,” he had tweeted. Now, in an exclusive chat with us, the actor opens up about what propelled him to take to the social media urging people to listen to Tanushree Dutta’s story and not jump to conclusions.

‘WE WILL HEAR MANY MORE STORIES’

Farhan calls these episodes “very unfortunate” and asserts that, “If the woman has decided to speak up, least we can do is listen to what she has to say. My biggest annoyance was that even before we listened [to her story], people were insinuating that ‘because her career was over, she still wants attention’, and I found that in really bad taste.”

Not one to brush reality under the carpet, Farhan assumes “more such stories will come out and this is just tip of the iceberg.” All he is urging people is “not question those who are speaking up.” He elaborates, “They have already been through enough and had to find this kind of courage to be able to speak. Please listen to them patiently and don’t doubt their intention.”

 

The actor isn’t denying the fact that this is Tanushree’s version and there would surely be “someone else with a different story.”

However, Farhan is quick to point out the flip side, too. “If any woman puts a false accusation on someone that gets then proved to be false, would be doing a serious disservice to all the women who are speaking up honestly.” Hence, it’s also a “huge responsibility” on women to ensure that they also look out for men who maybe falsely accused at times within these things.

THE BIG LEARNING

With #metoo movement spreading out in Bollywood, Farhan hopes that production houses need to take immediate action. “I genuinely hope that most of them have set up [as per the Vishakha guidelines] the code of conduct that needed to be set up in all offices. So, if somebody has any kind of complaint, it’s dealt with appropriately.”

 

And if the production team fails to address the concerns of a victim, Farhan feels, it’s crucial that associations for artists must offer help. “Whether it’s the Film Producer’s Guild or CINTAA, they should also have a certain section within their organization, where, if somebody feels that the production house is not paying attention to their complaint, there’s somebody else that they can go to. Then the guild can then put the pressure on the production company if the need be to deal with the situation.”

WORK WITH THE ACCUSED?

Besides her allegations, Tanushree urged that big stars should set an example by refusing to work with sexual offenders ((in this case, Nana Patekar). Asked Farhan his views and he says that’s a personal call of the director or producer. “I’m not in a position to tell people what they should be doing. I find it difficult to say that if somebody wants to work with someone, that they should not. They’re answerable to their own conscience and they’re not committing a crime by signing a person for a film. So, it’s a grey area of ethics, morality and legality,” says the actor.

 

He goes on to add, “Everybody hopefully has a kind of barometer within themselves of knowing what is right or wrong, what is acceptable and what is not. We all know this. So, I hope that people use their better judgment when, going forward, they make these calls of working with certain people.”

Concluding the debate of whether it’s fair, or not, to boycott the accused, Farhan says, “If these accusations are proved to be true, there will be a repercussion in itself. Maybe that person will get but not the kind of work they he would probably be hoping for. That will happen. There will be some amount of payback.”

Interact with Monika Rawal Kukreja at Twitter/@monikarawal

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