The long impending #MeTooIndia movement has finally struck our nation. It has taken the entire film industry by storm and various sexual predators by their [email protected]!!s.
Critically acclaimed actress Priyanka Bose shared her story with us at MissMalini. She also told us why it was important for her to come forward now. Below is her testimony against Soumik Sen, Ally Khan, Anurag Kashyap and Sajid Khan.
At the time he was making his film, he was extra friendly with me. He kept telling me how sexy I am and how he wants to have an ‘extramarital’ affair with me. His pretext was that actresses and directors have a special relationship and I should milk it. I showed him a photo of my partner and told him if I had to have a relationship with someone which was a bit extra, it won’t be him.
We did a film together, a long time ago. We met at the dinner table where he proclaimed loudly, how ‘boring’ everything around is since I’m the only pussy at the table. I never wished to meet him again. But to my complete disgust, he landed up at a recent film festival and interrogated me about my life, shamelessly asking why my partner is still with me. To quote his exact words, “Because feminists are weird.” He had no remorse about the last comment he made. To top it, at the closing party, he stuck to me in his drunken state, saying things like “I should not get all feminist” with him because all he wants to do is nuzzle his face between my breasts.
I had stepped out of my house after three months of agonizing breastfeeding and thought I could hang with a friend and get a drink that night. Bumping into a drunk Mr Kashyap – His first reaction being what I doing at a bar and I should be home instead, taking care of the baby. Thanks, Mr Kashyap, for the casual sexism and misogyny. I took it back home with me that night, but thankfully nine years down the line, I’m glad I didn’t take your advice. My baby grew up just fine with a working mother, as has yours. We are both very lucky!
He called me for an audition. The text from his assistant read, “Should be comfortable in a bikini.” When I landed up with the required clothing, no sides were given. He walked in and lay down on the sofa. Over his trousers, he held his dick in his hand and said, “If I don’t get a hard-on looking at you, how will my audience?” I cried on my way home. I still can’t remember how I got out of there. It was all too foggy. I narrated what happened to my partner and he asked me to quit right away. But I didn’t. I garnered the courage to power through.
I will not let these experiences define me. I worked on myself, my outlook and mostly my craft. I had to experience the ‘dark’ side of show business but I promised myself that, I will not let these monsters get in my way of living the life I desired. The black and white of this experience is that my life and my work, are my birthright. Now, every cell in my body has the urgency to speak up, so every other 24 year old who is just starting out, who doesn’t know where her rent money or the next lunch is coming from, doesn’t hold back her voice, her story. Because the only thing we are responsible for first and foremost is standing up for ourselves.
To all the Men. Don’t be afraid. Sexual chemistry is a gorgeous thing. Do not misuse your power.
It makes me glad to see that Priyanka Bose has been brave enough to come forward and take a stand against predators like the accused. We need more bold voices like hers to inspire and encourage others who have faced the same ordeal and haven’t been able to bring their harassers to justice. It is no secret that this is not the first movement against something that is wrong with the industry. There have been many such accounts where people have spoken up against the dark side of the industry but the lack of support has always managed to brush these incidents away. But the #MeToo movement that is currently roaring in India has made one thing clear that women are no longer afraid to take on these predators and bring them to justice. Even authorities are involved in the matter and one of the accusers – Alok Nath was even sent a notice by the Indian Film & Television Directors’ Association after he was accused of multiple cases of sexual assault.
The past couple of weeks has been an endless reliving of this trauma. The guilt of having to keep quiet and not voicing it there and then, because I may have never worked again. Then and again the agony of asking for corroboration. The dilemma of not being believed and constant fear.
But if not now then when?