Bollywood movie Queen proved to be a path-breaking film on several counts. Most importantly though, it was lauded for portraying a woman not just as its central character but also as an embodiment of the core values of feminism.
However, the film’s director Vikas Bahl has now been accused of sexual harassment not only by his movie’s main star Kangana Ranaut, but also another woman who was employed by his company.
On Saturday Bahl’s one-time friend, business partner and one of Bollywood’s top filmmakers, Anurag Kashyap announced that they were dissolving Phantom Films — a film production company owned by Bahl, Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane and Madhu Mantena. The move came years after a former employee accused Bahl of sexual misconduct. In an investigative piece that involved several years worth of work, Huffington Post India has revealed that the female employee had reported in 2015 that Bahl had sexually assaulted her during the promotional tour of Bombay Velvet. However, despite reaching out to Anurag at the time, the matter was not given due importance.
Phantom was a dream, a glorious one and all dreams come to an end . We did our best and we succeeded and we failed. But i know for sure we will come out of this stronger, wiser and will continue to pursue our dreams our own individual ways. We wish each other the best.
— Anurag Kashyap (@anuragkashyap72) October 5, 2018
In an interview to HuffPost India, Anurag admitted that he had failed his employee. “Whatever happened was wrong. We didn’t handle it well, we failed. I cannot blame anyone but myself,” he said. “But now we are determined to do better. We believe her completely. She has our undying support. What Bahl has done is horrifying. We are already on our path of course correction and will do everything in our capacity to fix it.”
Kangana, who won a National Award for her performance in Queen, too has come out in support of the woman saying that she believes her.
In a statement issued by her, she said, “Every time we met, socially greeted and hugged each other, he (Bahl) would bury his face in my neck, hold me really tight and breathe in the smell of my hair. It took me great amount of strength and effort to pull myself out of his embrace. He’d say ‘I love how you smell K’.
“Even though Vikas was married back in 2014 when we were filming Queen, he bragged about having casual sex with a new partner every other day. I don’t judge people and their marriages but you can tell when addiction becomes sickness. He partied every night and shamed me for sleeping early and not being cool enough,” she added.
Kangana said though she believed the woman, it was sad that people were criticising him now “even though the woman asked for help long ago.”
“That time the story was conveniently killed but I supported her at that time as well… I thought the movement would catch up but I was wrong,” she said.
Kangana also stated that Vikas had come to her with a script about a gold medalist from Haryana but stopped talking about the project because she supported the woman. She, however, did not mind losing a good script and never called him either. “I was determined to say what I felt was right but the matter was pushed under the carpet and I didn’t hear any updates about the same. It’s amusing after the news of Phantom dissolution, many are finding the courage to attack him.
“Shame on such a society, go look at yourselves in the mirror bunch of cowards. Attacking powerless men won’t begin a movement. Let’s not be opportunists. Selective outrage will only serve as entertainment, this will just be tabloid gossip and nothing else,” she further said.
Vikas Bahl is currently directing Super 30 starring Hrithik Roshan. The film is due to be released on January 25 2019.