On Thursday, June 13, the Mumbai Police closed the sexual harassment case actress Tanushree Dutta had brought against Nana Patekar; they said they do not have enough evidence to charge him.
Dutta, who first accused Patekar of harassment in 2008, said she will fight the case closure in the Bombay High Court.
Dutta’s lawyer Nitin Satpute told India Today that they will challenge this decision in HC.
“We have not received any official information from the Oshiwara police station about the classification of offence (Summary Report) from the police on behalf of Tanushree Dutta. If the police files any B or C classification of Summary Report, that cannot be final; we can oppose it in court. After the hearing, if the court makes a decision, then again the case can be directed to the police to continue the investigation.”
Sources have reported that the police have filed a ‘B summary’ report; this means they have been unable to find enough evidence to support Dutta’s complaint.
Satpute said the police have been negligent and tried to protect Patekar, as several witnesses have not been given the chance to record statements.
In a statement, Dutta herself said rampant corruption and bribery are behind Patekar getting the clean chit.
She said, “I mean if rape accused Alok Nath got a clean chit and returned to movies, then surely it was not going to be difficult for harassment accused Nana Patekar to get himself, or shall we say buy himself, a clean chit to continue to bully hapless young women.”
What are Tanushree Dutta’s allegations?
In an interview in 2008, the Bollywood actress accused Patekar of “misbehaviour” on the seat of Horn ‘Ok’ Pleassss. She said Patekar made her “so uncomfortable while shooting for a special number, that she eventually had to opt out of the film”.
Dutta said that, around 7 am, Patekar was lingering around her and staring at her while she was performing (her item number), despite being required on set for only one line.
She added that Patekar manhandled her to show her dance moves and even asked the choreographer, Ganesh Acharya, to move out.
Dutta said she complained to director Rakesh Sarang, who promised to look into it but eventually did nothing. She also said that she resisted doing a romantic dance step with Patekar and walked off set because she felt like she was being forced to do it.
“Okay, so further, before I could realise, the production team was banging on the door of my vanity van. But my parents (who were also on the set) and I tried to drive off; the MNS had arrived, and they tried breaking the car,” recalled Dutta.
MNS is Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, a far-right political party involved in several instances of violence in the past.
Dutta continued: “The gates were closed. Instructions were given to not let my car go out. It was horrifying. Thankfully, the police arrived.”
Patekar defends, but support comes in for Dutta
Patekar denied the allegations and said he would consult with his legal team on taking action against Dutta. Acharya also defended Patekar and said there was a “misunderstanding” between Dutta and the actor.
However, former India Today reporter and now talk show host Janice Sequeira corroborated Dutta’s allegations in a series of tweets.
Sequeira said, “Some incidents that take place even a decade ago remain fresh in your memory. What happened with Tanushree Dutta on the sets of Horn Ok Pleassss is one such incident—I was there.”
Sequeira went on to say that Dutta was “visibly upset” and walked off the set in a while. She added that “goons turned up” and banged on her vanity van door and broke her car’s windshield.
India’s second #MeToo wave ousts some, but not enough
Dutta’s case against Patekar has become one of Bollywood’s most high-profile and contentious sexual harassment cases. It even invited messages of support from A-listers Sonam Kapoor and Farhan Akhtar.
In 2017, after lawyer Raya Sarkar published LoSHA—List of Sexual Harassers in Academia—India’s #MeToo movement kicked off. However, Sarkar was heavily criticised by both, liberal feminists and ‘men’s rights activists’.
India saw a massive second coming of the #MeToo movement in 2018 when Dutta again spoke out against Patekar. Soon, women across all industries took to social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram to name their own abusers and harassers.
Several women accused Only Much Louder founder and former CEO Vijay Nair of harassment. The Caravan also ran a story on the problematic work culture at OML.
Similar companies, namely AIB, also came under fire after founder and former CEO Tanmay Bhat failed to take action against freelancer Utsav Chakraborty. Another founding member of AIB Gursimran Khambha has also been accused of harassment by an ex.
Khamba has denied the allegations and refused to cooperate with an external complaints committee.
Even the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has been accused of sexual harassment by a former employee. After Gogoi presided over a hearing against himself, scores of lawyers and several legal associations called foul and said Gogoi was acting in an unfair, highhanded manner. These activists and the former employee herself have demanded an independent inquiry.
However, like Patekar, Gogoi also has gotten a clean chit in the case against him.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius.