Mukesh Bhatt Calls Women 'Cunning' And 'Exploitative'

Shreemi Verma , 13 Nov 2017
Mukesh Bhatt
Mukesh Bhatt

In the wake of sexual harassment allegations against some of the biggest names in Hollywood like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Woody Allen etc., Times interviewed some content creators in Bollywood to comment on the likelihood of this uprising here.

After the New York Times expose on Harvey and the multiple women and men who have called out the power-players in Hollywood afterwards, prominent personalities from the Indian film industry were asked if something like this could ever happen here.

The director of this year’s hit Lipstick Under My Burkha, Alankrita Shrivastava said that she doesn’t think that this degree of naming and shaming predators and assaulters could be a possibility in India.

The way men are being called out in Hollywood right now, I don’t know if it can happen in India. In terms of how our psychology is, how patriarchy functions, it is much more entrenched.

While Indian actress Divya Unny spoke about a 2015 incident that happened in Kerala where she was called to an award-winning director’s hotel room. The director (who she didn’t wish to name) propositioned her for sex and told her she would have to make compromises if she wanted to succeed in the film industry.

Mukesh Bhatt, who heads Vishesh Films along with writer-director Mahesh Bhatt was asked about his opinion on a male dominated industry and the sexual politics that come in to play in such situations.

His statement to Reuters was very strange –

What can we do? We cannot do any moral policing. We cannot keep moral cops outside every film office to see that no girl is being exploited.

He then went on to defend this problematic and rampant behaviour which is basically an open secret in Bollywood –

I am not saying men have not been exploitative. They have been for centuries. But today’s woman is also not as simple as she pretends to be. Just as there are good men and bad men, so also there are women who are exploitative and very cunning. Also blatantly shameless to offer themselves.

“Blatantly shameless to offer themselves?”

Did he hear himself before making this statement? Women have been conditioned for decades to adhere to rules set by powerful men, at their homes and at their workplaces. Women have been repeatedly told that they won’t be able to get ahead in their careers if they don’t “compromise” or “please” their bosses. If they are promoted, women have often been made to feel that they’ve achieved something only because they’re “good looking” or the “favourite of the boss”, the bosses in question are predominantly male. Women of a certain age don’t get lead roles anymore while 50+ actors continue to romance women young enough to be their daughters.  Whatever advice women have received, it literally boils down to pleasing the “right people” to stay relevant in any industry.

Is Mukesh Bhatt really that unaware? His statement reeks of victim-shaming, which is one of the biggest reasons why women (and men) who have suffered sexual harassment of any kind are still unwilling to press charges or go on record.

If one of the biggest producers in Bollywood thinks like this, do you really think the “Harvey Weinsteins” of Bollywood will ever be called out?

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