Bengali thespian and playwright Sudipto Chatterjee was arrested on Friday on charges of sexually harassing two women, sources said. Chatterjee, who used to teach film and theatre to media science students of the The Heritage Academy, resigned on Thursday.
“Chatterjee has been arrested and will be produced in court on Saturday,” said Joint CP (Crime) Murlidhar Sharma. Police arrested Chatterjee from his Kolkata residence after they received two complaints — one at Phoolbagan police station on Thursday night and the other at Beliaghata police station on Friday.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, a woman had alleged that Chatterjee called her to his place to help her with her acting in a play, but then touched her inappropriately. She said that he had sexually harassed many others and that she had to speak out. “I have not filed an FIR as of now. The institute has constituted an ICC and I am cooperating with it. I will also raise the matter with the women’s commission,” she added.
After the woman’s post was published, several other performers shared their alleged encounters with Chatterjee. A woman said he invited her to his home for voice exercises after sending a message that physical touch would be part of the process. The experience at his home left her blank, she wrote. A third woman said she stopped working in Bengali theatre “as I was terribly distressed with everything I have faced”.
Chatterjee has called the allegation “a case of distortion and misrepresentation of facts”.
“I am completely innocent. It was completely educational and consensual. There was nothing sexual about it. It was about training and allowing her to get deeper in the role she was portraying in a play. It was geared towards the success and improvement of the play,” he has said.
Chatterjee, who has a group called Spectators in Kolkata, captured the story of Lalon Fakir in a critically-acclaimed play, Man of the Heart. He has taught at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi and the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Kolkata and lectured at the National School of Drama in Delhi. He has also taught at Tufts University and the University of California.