The #MeToo movement is gaining a stronghold in the country and several influential and well-known celebrities from Bollywood as well as media industry has been named and shamed. Nana Patekar, Alok Nath, Vikas Bahl, Utsav Chakraborty and several others have been called out for their misdeeds and sexual misconduct. Now, actor-director Imran Khan told a leading website that though he wanted to speak out earlier about some of the perpetrators but was advised to remain silent as his comments might be dismissed as a publicity gimmick and he will be labeled as an attention seeker.
Supporting the #MeToo movement Imran said, “I think it was long long long overdue. There have been times when I wanted to speak out. I was advised to stay quiet because they said people will assume I am trying to grab publicity. They (people) will say I am trying to become relevant and come in the news since my films have not worked well. Time and again, people around me will tell me to not speak up." Although he did speak up about Vikas Bahl and said that he is not surprised about the sexual harassment allegations levied against him as he had heard about it from three other actresses.
He further added, “There are a lot of things that have happened in front of me and bothered me for years. Even after being aware of so many things, I could not say it out because I somewhere felt no one will support me on it.” The actor narrated an incident from his early days in Bollywood and said, “There was a director who was auditioning for the female lead in a film. He made girls do a photoshoot in bikinis, in sexy poses. These photographs went straight to the director's personal laptops. These were not costume tests. These were not even used for marketing.”
mran added, “Later, he was showing these photos to the three shortlisted actresses and other women on the sets. I found it appalling. It is sexism and definitely an emotional and mental harassment. It was a wrong usage of power.” Imran also spoke about Vikas Bahl who has been accused of sexual harassment and misconduct by a female employee of the erstwhile Phantom Films. Talking about Vikas he said, “ Everyone is talking about Vikas Bahl. I have heard his stories from three other actresses. Ranging from inappropriate touching to straight up saying that if you were cast in the film, what will I get in return. Again, I am telling you what I know directly through the actresses or from the industry. Everyone in the film industry knew. I was at a social gathering 5-6 months ago, with a lot of people and the conversation came about MeToo movement in Hollywood. At a point, I said what about Bollywood. The Vikas Bahl matter was brushed under the carpet, a few weeks after the news first appeared. I saw him smiling, posing for pictures with every celebrity in the industry. At that point, he started making a film with Hrithik Roshan. I was like how it is in Hollywood a culprit is shunned but here he was making a proper film. Everyone was socialising with him. So, I brought it up at the party and realized only I was only odd one there.”
Imran was asked that why many A-listers especially male superstars have not come out in support of the movement and he said, “I know why people are not coming out. Even now, I am not naming because the names are too big and no one will trust me without evidence. I cannot imagine how it will be for all those women who have been a victim." Imran’s statements come as a revelation especially when not many male stars have come forward to lend their support to #MeToo. Other than Imran only Farhan Akhtar and Vir Das actually came out to support the victims and the survivors. Salman Khan evaded the question and so did Amitabh Bachchan.