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It's their career on the line: Kalki Koechlin on why women don't speak up against sexual harassment

While Hollywood is battling a serious war against sexual harassment, Kalki Koechlin's recent video with BBC explains why it is still a distant thought in Indian cinema. 

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Shriram Iyengar

The world of Hollywood is constantly fighting a battle against sexual harassment over the last couple of years. Since the news about Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein broke, there have been a number of actresses who have spoken up against harassment prevalent in the industry naming and shaming prominent names. Even award ceremonies like the recent Golden Globes revolved around the contentious issue. However, back home, Kalki Koechlin does not believe it is a possibility in India. 

In a recent video for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Koechlin spoke up against the presence of sexual harassment in the Indian film industry. While she maintains that it is a constant fight, she said that it was hard for women in the industry to speak up because 'it's their career on the line'. Koechlin says, "You are dealing with hundreds of people throwing their opinions at you. It can really shake a person emotionally." 

A short video, the one-on-one features the actress talking on the risks, and challenges faced by women in the industry. Koechlin says, "I know several young girls, who are newcomers in Bollywood — struggling, going for auditions, who are constantly being discriminated because of the way they look."

In addition, the actress said that these newcomers often face harrassment from casting directors with 2am phone calls, and approaches. These, Koechlin insisted, were not reported as they have 'no famous person to headline it.' 

Koechlin is not the first instance of an actress lashing out against the prevalent harassment in the industry. In 2017, post Kangana Ranaut's bitter feud with Hrithik Roshan, there were several actresses like Richa Chaddha, and even Ahana Kumra, who spoke up against sexual harassment. However, there is yet to be a large scale movement like in Hollywood that might change these practices. 

The Dev, D (2008) actress suggested that the reason is that men are often clueless to the experiences of women, and women themselves have grown numb to these experiences. This needs to change, she said, 

"Both men and women need to be having a dialogue with each other, not against each other," she said. 

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