Queen, one of the hits movies of Bollywood, joyful and a delight to watch on a bad day.We were all probably rolling on the floors from laughing so much at this hilarious movie on how a sassy woman can recreate her new independent life if you dare break her heart! But maybe on the sets of “Queen” things weren’t as joyful as it seems. Or even lawful for that matter.
As #MeToo Movement is in full swing to encourage women to speak out about assaults, in India show business after Tanushree Dutta accused Nana Patekar of sexual harassment now the lead role actress of Queen (2014) Kangana Ranaut has accused the movie director Vikas Bahl of sexual harassment.
In support of another co-worker and victim of Vikas Bahl harassment, Kangana Ranaut shared her own experience in an interview to India Today:
“Totally believe her. Even though Vikas was married back in 2014 when we were filming Queen, he bragged about having casual sex with a new partner every other day. I don’t judge people and their marriages but you can tell when addiction becomes sickness. He partied every night and shamed me for sleeping early and not being cool enough.”, said Kangana.
The 31-year-old actress recalled the times that he would “hold her really tight” and would “smell her hair.”
“But still every time we met, socially greeted and hugged each other, he’d bury his face in my neck, hold me really tight and breathe in the smell of my hair. It took me great amount of strength and effort to pull myself out of his embrace. He’d say ‘I love how you smell K’. I could tell something is wrong with him,” Kangana told India Today.
She also shared how she was victimized after she supported the girl.
“At that time Vikas had come to me with a script about a gold medalist from Haryana. When I supported the girl, he stopped talking to me. I didn’t mind losing out on a good script and I never called him either. I was determined to say what I felt was right. The matter was pushed under the carpet and I didn’t hear any updates on the same.”
It is assumed that the reason behind the dissolution of a production company Phantom Films is the widely spread news of sexual assault against Vikas Bahl. The decision to dissolve the company came after discussing legal actions which excluded firing Vikas Bahl since he is one of the founding owner of company. So in an effort to stand by justice, the company that is known to perpetuate this kind of sexual harrassment on several levels was dissolved.
“We didn’t handle it well and I cannot blame anybody but myself”. “If that wasn’t enough, I named and shamed him privately amongst whoever asked about it. While others in the industry were rumour-mongering, it was me who was responsible for bringing out Vikas’ name publically by speaking with Mumbai Mirror on an anonymous basis and the publication eventually carried out a front page article about the incident. Nothing about it was under wraps. It has been out there for more than a year.”, states Anurag Kashyap.
The 2015 Incident:
Vikas Bahl was also accused by an ex-employee of phantom in 2015 at a pre-release event of movie Bombay Velvet. She recalls that she got too drunk at the party and as she prepared to leave Vikas Bahl offered to accompany her to way to her hotel. Vikas said it was for safety purposes as she was recently recovering from an accident. She accepted the offer observing nothing unusual. As they reached the room she bid her bye to Bahl and turned to the bathroom, meanwhile Bahl entered the room without consent and pretended to be drunk and drained to move. Further the woman recalls that she made a division on bed with several pillows and passed out.
“I had no energy to do anything more. He wasn’t leaving my room. I gathered some strength and put multiple pillows between the two of us to create some sort of a divider,” she said. “Everything was blurry, I was on the verge of passing out but one part of my brain was very aware of this man who wouldn’t leave my bed.”
The next instance she gained conscious in a horrific situation: she felt his hands under her dress and after resisting several times she pushed him away, Bahl dropped his pants and began to masturbate. She was on her back shaken to face Bahl, he masturbated onto her back.
The event left woman traumatized and suicidal, that she had to go through therapy, take anti-depressants and experience Buddhist therapy for peace and faith. The employee also faced daily harassment from Bahl at the office till after 5 months of the incident she decided to talk her boss Anurag Kashyap which didn’t do much good to her. In 2017, the phantom co-owner Anurag Kashyap , and his girlfriend Shubhra Shetty reached her again with support that he could have done something right away and that he completely believes her.
Kashyap also admitted to HuffPost India “Whatever happened was wrong. We didn’t handle it well, we failed. I cannot blame anyone but myself,” Kashyap said. “But now we are determined to do better. We believe her completely. She has our undying support. What Bahl has done is horrifying. We are already on our path of course correction and will do everything in our capacity to fix it.”
After few text exchanges, a meeting and a heated argument between co-owner and victim and her boyfriend, she had asked them to leave her alone and forget the matter once and for all, for fear that signing any document the Phantom company would not support her publicly.