Tanushree Dutta made the first dent in patriarchy’s wall – Women in India have been fighting for their rightful place in society for decades; to study in the right schools and colleges, to be able to sit for competitive exams, to walk safely on roads, to work in safer offices that protect their integrity and not endanger it, to break the shackles of patriarchy. Women have been fighting for a place that is not beneath the man but with him, beside him.
This struggle grew fiercer with former actress and model Tanushree Dutta’s voice. Her story about sexual harassment was the same as a decade ago: Nana Patekar harassed her in 2008 (Dutta was all of 24 back then, while Patekar was 57) on the sets of Horn Ok Pleassss. But there was a twist to the story this time around.
Even as her allegations bought on a mind-numbing mix of criticism and doubt, Dutta received solidarity and belief — things that were denied to her the first time around. This time, though, people weren’t quick to taint her. For every “she is doing it for the publicity, she has no work, she is lying”, there were dozens of “I believe you”. And perhaps that is all she wanted.
the movement hadn’t even taken shape as #MeToo. But she opened up about the ordeals of speaking up. “I would have done just fine by myself. I don’t need a clutch to get publicity. Who really are these people to taint my claims like that!” she had exclaimed.
She also recognised the need for a unanimous support system early on. “For how long will I fight this by myself? More and more women should come out with their stories. Only then can we bring about a change in this patriarchal set-up,” she had said.
Armed with a belief in herself, Dutta spearheaded an uprising against the hush-hush politics of sexual harassment at the workplace. Within hours of her first interview with a channel, women were ousting predators on social media. Women used the same anonymity that was used against them as a weapon.
Men in powerful positions across sector were felled — former minister of external affairs and journalist MJ Akbar, Queen director and one-part of the Phantom production trio, Vikas Bahl, and Flipkart CEO Binny Bansal to name a few.
All it took was for a spark, and Dutta provided it.
- The actress and model alleged that Nana Patekar, 33 years her senior, harassed her in 2008 on the sets of Horn Ok Pleassss.
- She had originally made the claims several years ago, but people weren’t as quick to taint her anymore. Dutta received solidarity and belief, things that were denied to her a decade ago.