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Renuka Shahane on Tanushree Dutta case: If a colleague complained, why not change a dance step?

Renuka Shahane has penned a well-reasoned article on Facebook on the ongoing controversy around Tanushree Dutta’s claims of alleged sexual harassment by Nana Patekar.

bollywood Updated: Sep 30, 2018 15:31 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Renuka Shahane,Tanushree Dutta,Nana Patekar
Tanushree Dutta during a media interaction to promote #MeToo campaign in Mumbai.(IANS)

After claims and counter claims, here’s an opinion on the ongoing controversy surrounding Tanushree Dutta’s allegations of sexual harassment against actor Nana Patekar that makes for a compelling read. Well-known actor, Renuka Shahane, immensely popular as the bhabhi in Hum Aapke Hain Koun! has come out in support of Tanushree and has questioned the way the film industry works in a Facebook post.

Renuka begins by stating clearly that while she supports many of Tanushree’s claims, she doesn’t refute the fact that Nana may not be all black. She states that Nana is known in the industry, both for his temper as well as his charity and that many have faced his wrath before. However, she reasons that even if one was to accept that it may not have been Nana’s intention to molest, if a colleague says that she was uncomfortable with certain steps, what stopped the other members of the team (director, choreographer and producer) to not change it?

She questions, “Tanushree made it clear that she was uncomfortable with a certain step in the dance and did not like Nana’s gesture/touch during that step. Even if Nana’s intentions might not have been to molest her, couldn’t he, the director and the choreographer come up with a step that made her feel comfortable? Would the film have suffered earth shatteringly if the steps were changed so that an actor felt more comfortable?”

(File Photo): Tanushree Dutta during the launch of Samsung product in New Delhi (May 24, 2006). (REUTERS)

She wonders if the matter would have played out differently if the lady in question had been the daughter of one of those four men. In a sarcastic vein, she writes, that after all, there is a difference in being a “beti (daughter)” and “beti jaisi (like a daughter)”.

“If she was truly the daughter of any of the men around would they have really asked her to do something that made her feel very uncomfortable or would they want to change the step? Shayad yehi fark hai “beti jaisi” or asli beti hone mein!”

Her damning indictment continues, “And now let’s come to the aftermath. Whose career did this incident affect? None of the men had a difficult time. Their ego had won! The men got all the support that any industry (not just the film industry) gives to powerful men. The only person who was traumatized was Tanushree. The scars have still not healed. Please do the math.”

In an era where sentiments easily get hurt, she comments on the overreaction to Tanushree’s actions. She talks of how an environment of intimidation was created by alleged members of a political party.

She continues: “As if four full grown men weren’t enough against one girl, allegedly some members of a political party were called in to intimidate Tanushree and her parents! WTH!!! If that is not a huge overreaction then what is? Allegedly, the political party wanted Tanushree to apologise for hurting the ‘pride of Maharashtra’. Can you believe this? Would this behaviour, to force a girl uncomfortable with a dance step, really make Maharashtra proud? Isn’t the pride of Maharashtra enshrined in respecting women and making it safer for women to live life?”

Tanushree has spoken up about the alleged sexual harassment at the hands of Nana on the sets of the 2008 film, Horn OK Pleassss and how choreographer Ganesh Acharya and director of the film did nothing about it. Her claims have found support from a number of young Bollywood stars including Farhan Akhtar, Priyanka Chopra, Parineeti Chopra and Richa Chadha. However, Tanushree has taken umbrage to Priyanka calling her a “survivor” stating that she has a name.

Read the complete post here:

Nana Patekar is known as much for his volatile temper as he is for his phenomenal talent or his social service towards farmers. Many men & women from the film industry have faced his wrath. I have never worked with either Nana or Tanushree & neither was I a part of “Horn Ok Pleassss”. But there are some points in Tanushree’s story that resonate with me. I’d like to share them:

1) Tanushree made it clear that she was uncomfortable with a certain step in the dance and did not like Nana’s gesture/touch during that step. Even if Nana’s intentions might not have been to molest her, couldn’t he, the director and the choreographer come up with a step that made her feel comfortable? Is the work place meant for terrorising people or about working in a healthy atmosphere? Would the film have suffered earth shatteringly if the steps were changed so that an actor felt more comfortable? What made Tanushree uncomfortable might not cause discomfort to other women perhaps but that is no reason for the men on the set to gang up against a person who is part of their team. If she was truly the daughter of any of the men around would they have really asked her to do something that made her feel very uncomfortable or would they want to change the step? Shayad yehi fark hai “beti jaisi” or asli beti hone mein!

2) As if four full grown men weren’t enough against one girl, allegedly some members of a political party were called in to intimidate Tanushree and her parents! WTH!!! If that is not a huge overreaction then what is? Allegedly, the political party wanted Tanushree to apologise for hurting the “pride of Maharashtra”. Can you believe this? Would this behaviour, to force a girl uncomfortable with a dance step, really make Maharashtra proud? Isn’t the pride of Maharashtra enshrined in respecting women and making it safer for women to live life? Talk about ironies!

3) And now let’s come to the aftermath. Whose career did this incident affect? None of the men had a difficult time. Their ego had won! The men got all the support that any industry ( not just the film industry) gives to powerful men. The only person who was traumatized was Tanushree. The scars have still not healed. Please do the math.

P.S: A little birdie from the set told me that the great producer of that particular film had many legal issues about non payment of dues & even talk of being funded by the underworld. But hey hey hey thats okay I guess. He must have been impeccably honest. After all he was upholding the “pride of Maharashtra”! Right???

There are small people( both men & women) with big egos in many places of power all over the world. When I see that too many people gang up against one person I consider that bullying and bullying cannot be right from any angle. It dehumanizes the victim!

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First Published: Sep 30, 2018 10:38 IST