Interview Hindi

Whoever is intimidating her should be put behind bars: Vipul Shah on Tanushree Dutta and harassment

The Namaste England director gave his view on Dutta's allegations against Nana Patekar and taking measures to ensure women in the film industry feel safe.

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Suparna Thombare

During the promotions of his upcoming film, Namaste England (starring Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra), we asked filmmmaker Vipul Shah, who runs Sunshine Pictures, a few questions on actress Tanushree Dutta's allegations, the discussion around harassment of women in the film industry and the measures he takes to ensure a safe working environment for women within his company.

The filmmaker, who has produced films like Force (2011) and Commando (2013) franchise and directed films like Aankhen (2002), Waqt: The Race Against Time (2005) and Namastey London (2007), was quite forthcoming with his views and demanded a thorough investigation into the case, also saying that people intimidating Dutta for speaking out needed to be put behind bars.

Here are the excerpts.

What are your views on the Tanushree Dutta speaking out against sexual harassment from Nana Patekar and the intimidation and mob voilence that followed. Several witnesses have backed her account...

The people who do not know the truth should not talk about the issue because you'll do injustice to someone or the other.

What needs to be done immediately is that a police investigation needs to be conducted, which needs to be impartial. Pressure should be created to make sure it's impartial, in which I am included. Whatever needs to be done to make sure that the investigation is impartial. And the guilt must be established.

Once the guilt is established then you go after the perpetrator, whoever's guilty and you punish them. But what is happening right now is that we are in a state of gossip mongering. Every person, by adding their own story and point of view, is causing the depth and the pain and the severity to end at a gossip level. We are not dealing with it the way we should. I can see the dearth of sensitivity. Every person is saying something. Sting operations happen. And then it's like Raza Murad said this or someone else said that... that is not the important issue. The important issue is what happened. So it should be investigated and then make a case out of it. So that whoever is guilty in this case is punished and people are scared of doing such things in the future.

What do you have to say about the intimidation tactics being used against Tanushree Dutta by a political party, Nana and others?

Whoever is intimidating her should be put behind bars without wasting time so that the girl feels protected and she feels that this is my country and I have the liberty to express myself and what happened to me. The decision of what is right and wrong is a different thing, but intimidation is completely unacceptable and it should be stopped.

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Does Dutta's case have the potential to lead to India's #MeToo movement?

Yes, it can. And I must say the media is playing a crucial role in taking it there.

How do you ensure safety at work for women within your company?

Almost 30 to 40% of most film crews these days are women. If our units were that unsafe, then many girls wouldn't come into the film industry. What happens that even if one case of harrasmnet happens everyone gets painted in the same colour. I am not saying it doesn't happen. It does, like any other field. But the number of girls in film units is constantly on the rise. In some units it's almost 50/50. So if the environment was that unsafe, this wouldn't have happened.

But yes, we can't deny that it happens. I am not sure how we can handle it, but in my company there is a rule. When a boy or a girl comes to us for casting, no executive can meet them alone. Either they have to bring somebody with them or two people from the company will sit with them. And if at all they are meeting alone it has to be in our glass cabin. These are basic rules that you have to put in practice to create an environment where girls feel safe to come into your office.

Related topics

Casting Couch Sexual harassment