Tanushree Dutta Accuses Nana Patekar of Sexual Harassment: Can Bollywood Have its #MeToo Movement?

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Why hasn’t Bollywood had its #MeToo moment?

This question, and its answer, must have haunted Tanushree Dutta as she spent the last several years rebuilding her life in the U.S., silently following the spate of sexual assault allegations that have rocked Hollywood in recent memory.

Her answer to an errant reporter has sent all of B-town into a frenzy, with some taking lukewarm to hot takes of support, and others showing their true colors in a time of need.

Almost a decade ago, in 2008 on the sets of “Horn ‘Ok’ Pleassss” Tanushree Dutta alleges that Nana Patekar sexually harassed her in front of almost 50 background dancers – with the assistance of choreographer, Ganesh Acharya, while both producer and director remained quiet.

Tanushree Dutta was slated to shoot an individual dance sequence for the film, but she says that on the day of the shoot, Patekar convinced Acharya to add him into the song and change the steps so that he could dance with her and touch her in a “lewd and intimate manner.” Shocked and panicked, she locked herself in her trailer and did not leave until her parents came to collect her. Dutta walked off the set shortly after, and Rakhi Sawant went on to replace her.

I believe her. On the sheer principle that we must believe survivors when they come forward, give them the full support of society and law, I believe her. You don’t? Allow me to finish the story.

What Dutta didn’t expect was the aggression from the producers, culminating in an attack on her vehicle by MNS “goons” she claims were called by the producers as she left the set in 2008.

It was this incident that made national news for three days a decade ago, and finally prompted Tanushree Dutta to come forward and give an interview. This account has been corroborated also by journalist Janice Sequeira, who posted a twitter thread stating that she spoke to Dutta off-the record a few hours after the incident, saying she saw how shaken up Dutta was “first-hand”

Despite the frenzy (or perhaps because of it) Tanushree Dutta received somewhere between thirty to forty film offers, but she says she was so traumatized and paranoid that she could not return to film sets, and instead, she took a sabbatical.

All of this has been brought up again in her exclusive interview with DNA last week. Asked about the #MeToo movement, Dutta said she feels it can never come to India unless her case is acknowledged. She continued to call out the power structure and inherent sexism in the casting of films, saying,

It is the lead actors who cast their actresses… Casting directors only work with side actors.

Tanushree Dutta blasted A-listers like Akshay Kumar and Rajnikanth for working with Patekar despite the whispers of more allegations all over the industry. Both Patekar and Acharya have had prolific careers in the time Dutta has been away, and she reiterated again and again that actors in the community that stand by in silence and continue to provide such men with careers and cover are complicit.

Actors like Amitabh Bachchan are complicit – when Bachchan was asked about the incident at the “Thugs of Hindostan” presser, he had this response:


I hope he never tries to make a movie like “Pink” again, if he can’t stand by a woman who is reliving her experience 10 years later.

Aamir Khan, who was also present at the same event and receives so much admiration and applause for his stances on various social issues, went so far as to say he could not say anything without knowing the “veracity of the incident.”

Salman Khan had a mini meltdown when asked about Dutta’s allegations, reminding the reporter to ask about the event for which she came. It’s a response that I’m sure surprises no one, given the laundry list of various allegations against him.

Media people who are in the know and decide to give celebs low-ball questions, all other actors who are watching and evading or remaining silent, are complicit in this culture, and they are a big part of the reason these kinds of social movements will never take off in India.

However, despite this abject failure, several voices have spoken in support of Tanushree Dutta. Sonam Kapoor, Farhan Akhtar, and Priyanka Chopra all lauded her bravery in speaking out and urged others to believe her.

Actresses Richa Sharma, Swara Bhasker and Freida Pinto spoke out in support. Varun Dhawan surprised people with a supportive take alongside Anushka Sharma, saying,

If anything like this happens on my film set, I’ll personally make sure I’ll prevent it. You cannot let violence take over. Law and order should take its course and investigate the matter. Environment breeds people to do the wrong thing. It happened in 2008 and we are reacting to it in 2018. It’s not a good sign.

Even Arjun Kapoor had a lukewarm supportive response, he did not acknowledge whether he believed Dutta’s allegations, but did say that if the allegations were true, things needed to change in the industry:

If what Tanushree is saying is true then we as a industry would want that nobody experiences this again. We have to create an environment of equality. It’s important that women should feel safe in a working environment. It’s sad that this issue has come to light after 10 years…

As someone from industry, I would want that no girl should feel this as we want industry to be the safest place in the world. It’s disappointing that such a thing has happened with Tanushree. If allegations are true, we need to introspect

Tanushree Dutta also credits two men for keeping her faith in the industry alive until the incident. On the sets of “Chocolate,” directed by Vivek Agnihotri in 2005, the actress alleges that Agnihotri asked her to “strip and dance” to give the actor cues during his close up (is anyone at all surprised?). The actor in question was Irrfan Khan, who quickly shut down the whole thing and dismissed the need for this to continue by telling the director,

“What are you talking about? Mujhe acting aati hai.”

Sunil Shetty who was standing in the vicinity was also offended by what he heard and scolded the director,

“Main aayun kya wahaan cues dene ke liye?” (“Should I come and give you cues?”)

As of publishing this article, CINTAA has issued the following statement:

Tanushree Dutta has now filed an official police complaint against Patekar, and hopefully it will be properly handled. After being cornered at the airport recently, Patekar gave a brief comment about the allegations:

Despite the shaming and harassment she has gone through, Tanushree Dutta still believes there are good people in the industry. But it pains me to say that while we know and love our Bollywood stars so immensely, a great many of them remain complicit in an insidious, incestuous, nepotistic culture that stains the cinema, the love of the cinema and everything else it touches.

[Read Related: The ‘Padmavati’ Debacle: Bollywood Progressivism Against Protests is Too Little Too Late]

This faux progressivism is not worth anyone’s time if we’re not confronting our own cultures and communities.

By Priyanka Gulati

Priyanka Gulati is a writer, bollywood fanatic and hazelnut coffee lover. When she’s not swiping the burgundy lipsticks at Sephora … Read more ›

‘Thank You For Coming’ Unapologetically Begs the Answer to a Very Important Question

It’s never a dull moment with your girl gang; some shots and conversations about sex, right? If you agree, you’re in for a treat with Karan Boolani’s directorial venture, “Thank You For Coming,” which had its world premiere at the 48th annual Toronto International Film Festival. This coming-of-age story unapologetically begs the answer to a very important question: Why should women be left high and dry in bed?


Kanika Kapoor (Bhumi Pednekar) is a successful, 32-year-old, Delhi food blogger who makes a huge revelation on her 30th birthday: She’s never experienced an orgasm. This dirty little secret (no pun intended!) has now become detrimental to her self-esteem. She feels so down and out that she even accepts the proposal of a very boring suitor, Jeevan-ji (Pradhuman Singh Mall).

[Read Related: Meet Fashion Blogger and Media Star Dolly Singh]

Thank You For Coming

But, it’s not like she hasn’t tried. Kanika’s been a monogamist since her teenage years, starting with puppy love in high school — unfortunately, their sexual endeavors coined her as “thandi” (cold) by her first boyfriend — all the way to dating in her adulthood. But, regardless of how great any relationship was, nobody had her achieve the big O. All until the night of her engagement with Jeevan, when the drunk bride-to-be leaves the party for her hotel room and gets into bed. What follows is her very first orgasm. Ghungroo, finally, tute gaye! But, with whom?

The morning after, an initially-satisfied Kanika works herself into a frenzy of confusion and frustration as she makes her way through the list of potential men who could’ve been in her room the night before.

Thank You For Coming

Was it one of her exes? She’d simply invited them to come to wish her well.

Was it her fiance?

Or, God forbid, was it actually the rabdi-wala (ice cream man)?

Boolani takes a straight-forward and on-the-nose approach to drive the point home. There are no cutting corners, no mincing words, and no hovering over “taboo topics.” The dialogue is raunchy, the characters are horny, and no one is apologetic. It’s important for a film like “Thank You For Coming” to be so in-your-face because the subject of women achieving orgasms can’t really be presented in any other way. Anything more conservative in the narrative would feel like the makers are being mindful of addressing something prohibited. And there is no room for taboos here.

But, there is room for a more open conversation on the reasons why many women feel the need to suppress their sexual needs in bed; how generally, women have been brought up to be the more desirable gender and hence not cross certain boundaries that would make them appear too brash. The fight for the right of female pleasure would have been a little more effective if the modesty around the topic was addressed. But, that doesn’t mean that the point is remiss.

The plot moves swiftly along, never lulling too long over everything that seems to be going wrong in Kanika’s life. “Thank You For Coming” is full of all the right tropes that belong in a comedic, masala film, too; the direction very seamlessly takes classic fixings like the abhorrent admirer (enter Jeevan-ji) and effectively plugs them into this contemporary feature that will remain perpetually relevant.

Thank You For Coming

And now, let’s come to the star of the show: the well-rounded characters.

Producer Rhea Kapoor has mastered the formula of a good chick flick and her casting is the magic touch. She’s got a knack for bringing together the right actors — cue, “Veere Di Wedding.” So, just when we think that it doesn’t get better than the veere, Kapoor surprises us with a refreshing trio — they’re modern, they’re rebellious, and they say it like it is. Thank you, Dolly Singh (Pallavi Khanna) and Shibani Bedi (Tina Das) for being the yin to Kanika’s yang — and for the bag full of sex toys your homegirl oh-so needed!

To complete Kanika’s story, we have her single mother, Miss. Kapoor, brilliantly portrayed by Natasha Rastogi. She is the face of a headstrong and self-assured matriarch and a symbol of the modern-day Indian woman. Rastogi’s character exemplifies the fact that with access to education, and a stable career, women do not need to mold their lives around men.

I love the fact that Miss. Kapoor is almost villainized by her own mother (played by Dolly Ahluwalia) in the film because she had a child out of wedlock in her yesteryears, she chooses to remain single, and she brings her boyfriends around the house to hang out with. But, there’s a point to be made here. The fact that Kanika’s mother is being antagonized just highlights that she is challenging the norms and pushing the envelope for what is socially acceptable for women. Miss. Kapoor definitely deserves an honorable mention.

Pednekar’s unexpected yet impeccable comic timing is the highlight of the entire film. Everything from being a damsel in sexual distress to a woman who unabashedly chases self-pleasure, Pednekar puts on a genuinely entertaining act for the audience. From being portrayed as a high-schooler to the 32-year-old, independent woman, Pednekar is fit for each role. Her naivety as a teen wins you over, as does her gusto as a full-blown adult with a broken ankle and some very messy relationships. This also speaks volumes about the versatility of her looks.

And, of course, Pednekar is not new to films that address social topics, but “Thank You For Coming” challenges her to balance Kanika’s droll with the responsibility of delivering a very important message to the viewers. Mission accomplished, Ms. Pednekar!

Thank You For Coming

“Thank You For Coming” is a through-and-through entertainer. Everything from the casting — a huge shout out to the rest of the supporting cast including Anil Kapoor, Shehnaaz Gill, Karan Kundra, Kusha Kapila, Gautmik, and Sushant Divkigar, without whom this roller coaster would have lacked the thrills — to the homey locations and even the glitz and glamor in the song sequences, they’re all perfect pieces to help drive home a powerful message: Smash patriarchy!

All images in this article are courtesy of TIFF.

By Sandeep Panesar

Sandeep Panesar is an editor, and freelance writer, based out of Toronto. She enjoys everything from the holiday season to … Read more ›

Abhishek Bachchan, Saiyami Kher, and Angad Bedi on ‘Ghoomer’

“Ghoomer,” R. Balki’s latest directorial venture, had its world premiere at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2023 (IFFM), earlier this month, and the moment was nothing short of memorable. Lead actors Abhishek Bachchan, Saiyami Kher, and Angad Bedi, were present to unveil their labor of love to the world, and all three were left speechless at the reaction of the global audience; the film received a standing ovation on opening night, leaving the team extremely emotional — a feeling that Bachchan tells Brown Girl is one he cannot put into words.

“Ghoomer,” tells the story of Anina (played by Kher), an exceptional cricket player who loses her right hand in an accident. Downtrodden and with no will to live, Anina finds a mentor and coach in Padam Singh Sodhi (played by Bachchan), an insensitive and brash failed cricketer who helps her turn her life and career around; Anina also has the unwavering support of her husband, Jeet (played by Bedi). Sodhi teaches Anina unorthodox techniques to make her mark on the cricket ground once again. Enter, ghoomer, a new style of bowling.

[Read Related: 5 Tidbits About Bollywood Royalty Abhishek Bachchan For His 41st Birthday!]

Balki checks all the boxes with this feature — his protagonist is a female athlete, the film is his way of giving back to cricket (a new form of delivery), and he highlights the idea that nothing is impossible for paraplegic athletes. The heart of Balki’s film is in the right place — Kher mentions that the film is meant to be more of an inspirational movie and less of a sports-based movie. One can only imagine the impact that a film like this would have on an audience that’s hungry for meaningful cinema.

And, to chat more about “Ghoomer,” Brown Girl Magazine sat down with the stars of the show. Bachchan, Bedi, and Kher came together to talk about their inspiring characters, the filming journey, and how their film aspires to change the landscape of cricket and paraplegic athletes in the country. It was all that, with a side of samosas.

Take a look!

The featured image is courtesy of Sterling Global. 

By Sandeep Panesar

Sandeep Panesar is an editor, and freelance writer, based out of Toronto. She enjoys everything from the holiday season to … Read more ›

‘The Romantics’: Revisiting the Legacy and Grandeur of Yash Chopra With Filmmaker Smriti Mundhra

The Romantics

If you are a South Asian, born in the ’80s or the early ’90s, chances are your ideas of love and romance are heavily influenced by Hindi films — that first gaze, the secret love notes, that accidental meeting somewhere in Europe, over-the-top gestures and dancing around trees. While reality may have been far from what was promised on reel, you still can’t stop pining over a hopeless romantic, with chocolate boy looks, chasing you across the earth and many universes; in the life here and the ones after. Somewhere deep down, you still dream of that possibility despite your husband sitting and sipping his morning coffee right next to you. And much of the credit for weaving this dreamland, that we can’t resist happily sliding into, goes to the legendary Yash Chopra. Award-winning filmmaker Smriti Mundhra’s docu-series, “The Romantics,” that released on Netflix on February 14, chronicles Chopra’s prolific career; offering an illuminating look into the highs and lows of his journey, his unblemished vision for Hindi cinema and sheer love for filmmaking. 

I wanted to look at Indian cinema through the lens of it being a major contributor to the global cinema canon and Yash Chopra seemed like the perfect lens to explore that because of the longevity of his career and the fact that he had worked across so many different genres. His films, for so many of us, defined what Hindi cinema is.

— Smriti Mundhra

As “The Romantics” unveils, in a mere episode — a challenging feat in itself — Chopra did experiment with multiple genres as a budding filmmaker, initially under the shadows of his elder brother B.R. Chopra. From the religiously sensitive “Dharamputra” and the trendsetting “Waqt” to the action-packed and iconic “Deewaar.” It wasn’t until later on in his career that he set a precedent for a Hindi film having a wholly romantic narrative; though “Waqt” did offer the perfect glimpse into what would go on to become Chopra’s cinematic imprint. And then came “Chandni” which ushered in a new era for Hindi cinema; defying the formulaic approach to box office success and making love stories the golden goose.

In the words of more than 30 famous faces, a host of archival videos and interviews, and personal anecdotes, audiences get an extensive insight into the life and career of Yash Chopra and the evolution of his vision through the business acumen and genius of his polar opposite son and a famous recluse, Aditya Chopra. “The Romantics” is not a fancy portrait of a legendary filmmaker but an exploration of what goes into making a successful film family and a path-breaking production house. As viewers, we not only get a peek into the making of a fantasy creator but also learn of the many failures, hurdles and uncertainties that the business of filmmaking comes packaged in, the impact of socio-political shifts on the kind of content being produced and demanded, and just how much control we have as an audience over the fate of the film and the filmmaker.

For both the uninitiated and fanatics, there are some interesting revelations like Shah Rukh Khan’s lifelong desire to become an action hero as opposed to a romantic one and the creative conflict between Aditya Chopra and his father Yash Chopra on the sets of “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge” — a project that, surprisingly, did not seem too promising to the latter. Mundhra penetrates deep into the family’s history and industry relationships evoking some really candid conversations; almost as if these celebs were eagerly waiting for their moment to speak. With one appraising interview after the other, it’s a panegyric that does border on being a tad tedious but there is enough depth and fodder in there to keep one hooked. Kudos to Mundhra for managing to achieve cohesion despite there being more than enough material to chew on. In the process of bringing this project to life, Mundhra also ends up achieving a number of milestones: one that the series features the last of actor Rishi Kapoor’s interviews and two, it brings Aditya Chopra, who, it appears, can talk a blue streak contrary to popular belief, to the front of the camera after almost two decades. The moment when he puts the nepotism debate to rest by referring to his brother’s catastrophic attempt at acting is quite the show-stealer.


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At some point during the four-episode series, you might question if it’s fair to credit the Yash Raj family for being the only real changemakers of the Hindi film industry and for picking up the baton to get Hindi cinema the global recognition that it has. But then there is no denying the Chopra clan’s body of work, their ability to understand what pleases the crowd and their commitment towards growth and progress amidst changing times and technology — Yash Raj Studios is in fact the only privately held and one of the biggest, state-of-the-art film studios in India. Chopra’s career and legacy are in no way under-lit that Mundhra can claim to throw new light on with “The Romantics.” But what she really has on offer here are sheer nostalgia, some fascinating discoveries and an ode to a cinephile and his art with a bit of fan service.

In an interview with Brown Girl Magazine, Mundhra discusses why it was so important for Chopra to be the subject of her docu-series, her own learnings during the series’ research and creative process and her accomplishment of getting Aditya Chopra to talk, and that too, at length.

By Nida Hasan

Managing Editor at Brown Girl Magazine, Nida has worked and written for several publications in a journalism career spanning almost … Read more ›