Sanjay Khan’s recently released autobiography, The Best Mistakes of my Life doesn’t really mention the worst mistake he has made. In the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, Khan had reportedly thrashed actress and ex-beau Zeenat Aman in full view of the public, way back in 1980.
“If he had just slapped her hard a few times, one could have excused him. But what followed was one of the most brutal bash-ups any hotel staff could have witnessed. He hit her. She fell, he lifted her by her hair and hit her again. And again, and again. One could only hear her wails,” states a report in Cine Blitz, as acquired by The Quint.
However, this piece is not about Sanjay Khan’s allegedly atrocious treatment of Zeenie baby but about the guidelines that were set down for the promotional interviews for the book. According to reporters, they were specifically asked to steer clear of questions on #MeToo and Zeenat Aman.
At a recent event held by a global streaming giant for Southeast Asian journalists, the Indian PR clearly informed the journalists that no questions on #MeToo would be entertained for a press conference with a leading Hollywood actress (whose show has been at the very centre of this storm).
It appears that the Indian film industry’s PR machinery has already lost interest in the hashtag (maybe they think they have minted enough publicity from the movement?) and wants to move on from the subject. At a recent event held to celebrate the launch of a major audiobook app, the event’s PR forbade questions on #MeToo. A highly acclaimed actor and another actress with a penchant for doing interesting projects didn’t even get to hear the question. Both have been vocal advocates about woman empowerment.
Is this a diktat coming from the company whose launch this is about? Naturally, they might be afraid that the ‘story’ will be all about the movement and not the product. The fact that brands fail to understand the importance and relevance of the movement is shocking. Secondly, is this a diktat coming from the celebrity’s PR, because god forbid, the celebrity actually shares their own thoughts instead of parroting diplomatic answers written and approved by their managers? Or is this a request being made by the celebrities themselves? If that’s the case, it is heart-breaking and extremely hypocritical. This is not a movement that one should latch on to only when it suits their interests and the hashtag is “trending”.
The #MeToo movement has taken its time to reach Indian shores and has hit Bollywood in ways that nobody could have imagined. Whispers and rumours were suddenly out in the open – graphic details were revealed by brave women who chose to face the naysayers and trolls instead of staying silent. Tanushree Dutta doesn’t seem to have received much support when she came out regarding her story in 2008.
Things are different now – Dutta was given prime screen time when she chose to re-narrate her alleged encounter with Nana Patekar on the sets of Horn OK Please. Alok Nath, considered to be the ultimate Bapuji, was outed by Vinta Nanda – he has since been expelled from CINTAA. Sajid Khan and Vikas Bahl have also been replaced from the projects they were helming.
PR or no PR, it is time stars realised that they cannot dodge this particular topic and they shouldn’t. For once, celebrities should listen to their conscience instead of rolling over at the behest of their entourage. Me Too is not just a trending hashtag, it is a movement that can shape the future of our industries. Celebrities should use every opportunity to talk about it. If they don’t they are being the worst kind of hypocrites.