Shweta Pandit: No man from the music industry stood up for me – In the last four weeks, after the Tanushree Dutta-Nana Patekar case gained momentum, several women from different sectors called out alleged perpetrators, who they have accused of sexual harassment at the workplace. Among the many women, who have spoken out as part of the #MeToo Movement, were singers Sona Mohapatra and Shweta Pandit, who made allegations of inappropriate behaviour against Anu Malik.
Later, more women, who chose to remain anonymous, made similar charges against the 57-year-old singer-composer, who is currently judging the 10th season of Indian Idol. Those from the music industry haven’t commented on this matter. Ask Shweta what action does she expects to be taken, and she says, “I don’t know what internal discussions have taken place among the channel officials. But even if people working with him take a stand, it will make a lot of difference. Sona called out the other judges of Indian Idol (Vishal Dadlani and Neha Kakkar) to stop engaging with Anu Malik. There are so many more girls out there, who probably don’t have the courage to speak up, but I hope they do someday. There are five women, who have accused him, so it can’t be baseless. It’s not just me screaming from the rooftops. His fellow judges should step down because it will send out a strong message. If someone like me, who comes from a gharana of music, is treated this way, one can imagine what must be happening to newer singers,” she says.
Shweta adds, “Even back then, when it happened, I was shocked because I was the one suffering. Our mentality is to blame and question the woman when things like these happen.” She feels that this also brings out the underlying hypocrisy that exists within the music industry. “Surprisingly, people from the film industry have reached out to me, but no man from the music industry stood up for me,” she says. “Like me, Sona, too, is a victim of harassment.
Chinmayee (Sripada) is also actively involved with the movement. It’s very eerie and shows what kind of music industry we work in. It’s shameful. I’m not asking anyone to fight for me, but even when you look at Bollywood, in some cases, even the family of the accused has tweeted in solidarity with the victims. I’ve been here for 20 years and these are the kind of people I’m working with. It’s sad and shocking for me.”
Lyricist Sameer Anjaan has called her accusations ‘baseless’. Shweta says, “There are several mistakes in what he’s written. Why am I fighting this battle? Am I not fighting for their daughters’ future as well? Both, Anu and Sameer, have two daughters each, so this fight is also to ensure that they don’t face such harassment at the workplace.”
Does she plan to lodge a formal police complaint? “I’m in Italy right now and I will be in London after this, for concerts. Once I’m back in India, I will meet the women who are supporting other girls in the #MeToo Movement. That’s when I will know what the situation is like and what my next move should be. Right now, a lot of cases have been coming out. I have to understand the case better because I was a minor when this incident happened,” she concludes.