FILMMAKER ASHISH Avikunthak on Saturday claimed that he was barred from emtering Quest Mall in south Kolkata for wearing a dhoti, an allegation denied by the mall authorities. A Facebook post by the director, which triggered an outrage on social media, said, “Denying entry into the neo-colonial clubs of Kolkata is nothing new. But today I was denied entry into the mall because I was wearing dhoti (which I have been wearing for the last 26 years). On resisting and questioning, I was told that they have orders because of security reasons to prohibit entry of people in lungi and dhoti. I was eventually allowed in because I could argue in English and assert myself.”
“This is unambiguously a new low for this city…. Now public spaces are also threatened and a culture of segregation based on class is being practised unhindered.” Denying the charges, mall officials said security personnel had asked the filmmaker to wait and went to get supervisor’s opinion. He was then allowed in. “The total waiting period for the person was 20 seconds. We have video footage of his,” an official said.
Avikunthak’s companion, actor Debaleena Sen, told PTI, “We were about to enter when Ashish was stopped by security guards who said he can’t be allowed inside since he was wearing a dhoti. As we argued and Ashish spoke in English, mall officials came and allowed him in. Probably after hearing him speak in English they were assured that he belonged to higher social profile. We immediately came out in protest.”
Sen claimed she was recording the incident on her mobile, which mall employees asked her not to. “This shows they want to hide racist attitude,” she claimed.