Operation Lotus in Bollywood and attack on Anurag Kashyap: When directors and stars are turned villains

Director Anurag Kashyap during a press conference to promote their upcoming film ‘Mukkabaaz’ in New Delhi on Jan 10, 2018.
Image Credit: IANS

The Me Too movement, which has seen women across the world expose the men who have sexually harassed them at the workplace, is by my reckoning one of the most important movements in our history.

As a woman I have been in unequivocal in support of the movement. I believe her because it takes huge courage to speak up on the sexual harassment you suffer. It messes up your psyche – threatens your professional identity and nearly dismantles your confidence. Faithful reader of SWAT analysis I could have chosen to write on a myriad variety of subjects – you get enough material from the Modi government on a dismaying daily basis. So why have I chosen to write about well known film director Anurag Kashyap and the allegation of sexual harassment made against him by actor Payal Ghosh? The actor recently made sensational allegations of abuse against Kashyap on social media and tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The alleged abuse dates back to 2014 and Ghosh has made specific claims.

Payal Ghosh
Payal Ghosh
Image Credit: IANS

Kashyap has denied all these allegations and been supported by actor Tapsee Pannu. Kashyap yesterday issued a legal statement denying the charges. This came after actor Kangana Ranaut attacked Kashyap in a tweet storm. Ranaut also claimed that she was a victim of sexual harassment in the film industry. Ranaut did not name any of the men who harassed her and wanted Kashyap arrested.

Now the background to these sensational allegations. Kashyap is a well-known critic of the Modi government, which is allergic to any criticism. Kashyap is one of the few A-listers in the sycophantic Mumbai film industry who regularly calls out the government. As I have written earlier here in my SWAT analysis, the BJP has done an Operation Lotus in the film industry and bullied those actors, including the three superstars Aamir, Shah Rukh and Salman into silence post the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput. If you said a word against the witch hunt directed against actor Rhea Chakraborty, Rajput’s partner currently in jail accused by his family of murder and being investigated by three separate central Investigative agencies, you would bring a howling social media mob baying for your blood upon yourself.

No surprises that this was an organised paid mob of the BJP’s infamous IT cell weaponised by puerile television channels eager to peddle Rajput conspiracy theories as distraction from actual issues which would indict the Modi government. This backdrop will unpick for you why Kashyap has now been attacked by a mob, which wants him arrested despite the fact that Ghosh is yet to even file a first information report (FIR) against Kashyap. I am not remotely surprised by the attack against Kashyap. I am only wondering that it took so long. If Kashyap has sexually harassed Ghosh he should be given exemplary punishment. But, a social media lynch mob angry with Kashyap for bursting the bubble of the conspiracy theories about the Bollywood drug mafia, nepotism and Ms Ranaut can’t really be the mob punishing Kashyap.

From describing Mumbai as “Pakistan occupied Kashmir” to comparing farmers agitating against the Farm Bills to “terrorists” to calling the municipal authorities, who brought down the alleged unauthorised parts of her office “Babur’s army,” Ranaut has made a slew of attacks which are identical in tone and tenor to the IT cell. She has also made no bones about her support for the Modi government. In all these serial allegations, including targeting Aditya Thackeray, minister in the Maharashtra government and son of Shiv Sena chief and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, you would forget that she originally asked for justice for Rajput. It is quite breathtaking that Ranaut has been a victim of all that she claims Rajput and now Ghosh has suffered.

Read more Swati Chaturvedi

Days before the allegation made against him, Kashyap said Ranaut’s claims that she was forced to do drugs were wrong as nobody could force her. He also said Ravi Kishan, actor turned BJP MP, who spoke about the “drug mafia” in Bollywood allegedly used weed. What has annoyed the Right Wing is the smash the patriarchy campaign launched by some Bollywood players post Chakraborty’s arrest. If you can’t bully them, let’s target them seems to be the message. As a woman I don’t want the salience of the me too movement being sullied by misuse. Any spurious allegation hurts the credibility of the movement. Final takeaway – the Modi government makes sure that critics pay such a price that being mum on Modi is the preferred option.

Swati Chaturvedi, Special to Gulf News-1592296808900

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