When the #MeToo movement gained momentum in India back in 2018, Tanushree Dutta was the first Bollywood female to come forward with her allegations. She made headlines after accusing renowned Indian cinema personality Nana Patekar of sexual harassment on the sets of their 2008 film Horn ‘Ok’ Pleassss. While Patekar was eventually issued a clean chit in the case, the starlet filed a protest petition in retaliation. Fast forward two years and Dutta still remains upset about not receiving justice as she lashes out at Patekar’s return to Bollywood. Talking to The Brown Identity, she weighed in on the many-years-long battle against Patekar, her decision to quit showbiz and more!
Q. Patekar, whom you have accused of harassment, is back with a web series that producer Firoz Nadiadwala will produce. Your reaction?
Dutta: After harassing, insulting, humiliating, threatening and attacking my family and I, sending people to my place, cornering me with hired goons and spoiling my film career and life, this guy gets support from a big Bollywood producer and gets to make a grand comeback not even two years after my fight for justice.
Q. Does it anger/sadden you?
Dutta: I have been forced to stay away from Bollywood and acting for 12 years for no fault of mine. And people are asking justice for Sushant? Where is the justice for me? Please don’t let this happen. Don’t let these people get back to work while I still struggle to get my way back from my forced exile and wilderness.
Q. Are you tired of fighting these powerful lobbies in the film industry?
Dutta: I’m tired of fighting this corrupt system that not only defends bad people is also too quick to support and reinstate them while I face constant struggle in my life. I have no time to fight also now. The coronavirus has put an end to shows and events in the US. So, I had to start training for an IT Job. I had to shift out of the corona-free mountains and move into the Covid-infested Los Angeles city. I will be starting a new 9-5 IT job.
Q. So, is your fight for justice against Patekar over?
Dutta: How do you fight and do activism when you have bills to pay and no support from anyone? That’s why I feel so proud when I watch Kangana and others continue the dialogue, fight the good fight and do the social activism that I’m unable to because my life circumstances are such now.
Q. What are these circumstances that you are referring to?
Dutta: I have been earning my livelihood and supporting my family since the age of 16. These people took my career and livelihood away and bullied and harassed me into depression. But unlike Sushant I stayed alive but still people don’t realise perhaps how hard my life has been since then and how much sorrow I have faced trying to get back to normalcy.
Q. Why have you decided to take up a job?
Dutta: I was not that thrilled at the prospect of a regular job but the salary offer was good so I thought let’s not dream and accept the reality of life! They killed the artist in me and they killed my art. I’m already dead so no one can kill me. My art was my passion. Bollywood was my life.
Q. What are you gearing up for now?
Dutta: I’m in training now, so preparing for interviews next week. It will be whole new life. When I read about Nana Patekar’s return, I felt sick in my stomach. Even after Sushant’s death Bollywood has not learnt its lesson in humility. Signing up Vivek Agnihotri and Nana Patekar in the same project is almost a mockery to my integrity and honour, and a kick in the gut to all the women and men who fought in the #MeToo movement. Glorifying, bullying and harassment in the most shameless way! How many need to die before this atrocious insensitivity in Bollywood stops? I’m disgusted, hurt and disappointed beyond repair.