When I was studying at Pune University, one day we heard of a Mumbai television unit that was shooting on the campus. I trooped off to go see the action and I stood there watching Vinta Nanda directing. I remember seeing her as this exuberant, energetic director and wondering if I had to shed being soft spoken and shy to become a director myself. To me, she represented a strong person who knew where she was going.
A few days ago, when Vinta Nanda revealed her horrific experience I was aghast. I realised that she was far far stronger than I had realised then. But also far far more traumatised than anyone could have imagined. She belonged to the golden age of television where she helmed multiple shows that are still iconic and wielded considerable power. And yet this is what she was going through. Imagine the plight of newcomers and those who are at weaker positions in this ecosystem.
Image Courtesy : The News Minute
As women we often are aware of the traumatic stories of harassment that are shared through hushed whispers. Now, with Vinta Nanda sharing her 19 year old experience publicly, the rest of the Mumbai film industry has woken up to reality. They have pledged support to Me Too survivors from the industry.
In swift action the Producers Guild have set up a special committee for the same (Read here – https://www.ndtv.com/entertainment/producers-guild-sets-up-a-special-committee-to-help-metoo-survivors-1930080) Networks like Hotstar are cancelling successful shows made by alleged perpetrators. Film Festivals like MAMI are dropping films by alleged perpetrators. Companies like Phantom Films are shutting down to avoid working with alleged perpetrators. Actors like Aamir Khan are walking out of films engaging alleged perpetrators. The actor organisation CINTAA is sending a show-cause notice threatening expulsion to their member – an alleged perpetrator and they have extended full support to the Survivor (who is not their member).
By such powerful action the Mumbai Film Industry are taking a stand – that such violations are NOT acceptable in this industry.
In 2017, a woman actor who was actively working in the Malayalam film industry for 15 years, was sexually assaulted. She spoke up about her experience (as soon as it happened) and filed a police complaint and is taking things ahead to ensure the culprits are brought to book legally. Kerala is home-ground to powerful film bodies, many of whom have shown strong solidarity with one another. Not to forget powerful actors and powerful writers & makers whose work has won international acclaim from the world.
And yet… where is the proactive action supporting the survivors?
This too is a stand. A highly disturbing one.