The #MeToo Movement Moves to Bollywood

Via Arre

For those who are not familiar with Bollywood, it’s the Indian movie industry. It’s the largest movie producing industry worldwide, producing over a thousand Indian movies every year, While they are thriving at making movies, there is a new phenomenon that has recently reached them: the #MeToo movement.

An ongoing issue with Bollywood has always been the objectification of women in its movies. Songs will show women in skimpy clothes doing vulgar dance moves, while the movie itself will show women as simply a centerpiece and men do all the hard work.

When women are not respected in the workplace, it sets them up for an unsafe work environment. Bollywood actress, Tanushree Dutta, has sparked the #MeToo movement by being one of the first Indian actress to have publicly spoken about how her male co-star, Nana Patekar, sexually harassed her during the making of a song ten years ago. He pushed for intimate scenes within the song, which was not written in her contract. The choreographer is said to be involved in trying to execute this plan. While it’s wonderful that she spoke out, it puts a mirror against India’s regressive mindset. People started questioning her on things that are quite irrelevant:

“Are you doing this for publicity?”

“Why did you do other movies that were racy?”

“Were you acting a certain way?”

“Why are you coming out about this ten years later?”

The two main resources that have the power to change these mindsets are the ones actually perpetuating it: the media and Bollywood celebrities. Publications are printing ridiculous articles discussing if the actress has the credibility to call out sexual harassment based upon if the actress had done erotic scenes before. If such negative dialogue keeps on getting printed, what message is that sending to the public?

In addition, there have been many Bollywood celebrities, specifically the most reputable ones, that have refused to comment on this controversy. It’s sad that even though India has come so far, it falls short on vital issues like these. Bollywood celebrities are worshipped in India and have the power to shift mindsets and perpetuate change, yet they choose to be quiet instead. If these so called “role models” do not take advantage of their platform to converse on an issue that is so prevalent in India, what is the point of putting them on a pedestal?

Tanushree Dutta and Nana Patekar via FirstPost

This is a bittersweet time in India right now. Luckily, there have been a few celebrities that have supported Dutta, and that little push is what other actresses needed to tell their narrative. In the past two weeks, there have been multiple allegations against high-profile Bollywood actors and directors. Unfortunately, they are also getting asked similar questions as Dutta.

What’s concerning is the way the film industry, media and society is reacting. It feeds abuse, misogyny and a power struggle within the entertainment industry. Besides a few actors, no one wants to get involved by speaking in support of an actress because the accused are prolific actors and directors everyone wants to work with. It proves that once again, the power dynamic becomes the curtain everyone hides behind. However, we cannot ignore that in such a patriarchal society, this type of dialogue is finally occuring on a public level. It’s a step forward in the #MeToo movement, and hopefully justice gets served in this side of the world.