Anurag Kashyap is no longer a board member of Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI). On Wednesday, the Manmarziyaan director, over a series of tweets, shared a letter where he announced giving up his duties on the film festival board. He also wrote about consent, and how women in his life have shaped him as a man.
Kashyap is caught up in the storm of the ongoing MeToo movement where his former business partner from Phantom Films, Vikas Bahl has been charged with sexually harassing an ex-employee three years back. Kashyap, who claims to have been bound under several legalities to take action against Bahl all these years, has however said he feels guilty of not doing enough for the survivor in question.
Here is what Kashyap wrote:
“In the light of the current events, I have decided to step back from my duties as a board member from MAMI until the shadow of doubt of our alleged complicitness in silence and not doing anything about it, is cleared.
On the other hand, I vehemently deny to have stayed silent on the issue & not doing anything about it for years. Can’t explain further to people who don’t understand due process, legalities. Have been resilient through all accusations, keep flinging them my way.
The accused was named and shamed a long time back. For people who don’t read the details & only the headlines, I have no response. A lot of women work with me and have been around, I am answerable to them & they stand witness to our actions &our struggle to do the right thing.
Let the purging continue .. it’s as good a time as any for all of us to introspect, look into ourselves and see how we all have been complicit in so much, with our silence, forced by fear of consequence or by choice.
In more than a year I have questioned myself a lot, reflected on every single date I went to, every interaction of mine with the opposite sex, every encounter all that I could recall. And my greatest and simplest learning is that the line of consent is not just defined by “No”, most times it’s before that “No” is uttered. And the line of consent depends on the person that owns the consent. It varies from person to person.
It’s our conditioning, even for the most woke people. Most of us are still learning, everyone who claims to know what it means, and I talk about us men, we really don’t know. None of us know. It can’t and should not be defined so simply.
It begins with respecting the individuality and acknowledging the ownership the other has over herself and continuing awareness of it. My mind has been restless over many day/nights &more I read everyone’s accounts, it keeps adding to it.
I feel like just apologising for being a man. I use to feel I have come a long way from growing up in a smalltown &today I feel like somehow I am still there. There is so much I really don’t see & also see others around me pretending to see & I feel, ”inko bhi kahan dikhta hai”
I was lucky to have had women who slapped me from time to time to turn that boy who at 18 told the girl in his class “ladkiyon ko yeh nahin karna chahiye“ to whoever I have become today. But I also wonder, why & when did they stopped slapping me and thought it’s enough. It isn’t.”
Check out Anurag Kashyap’s tweets where he stepped down as MAMI board member
Vikas Bahl, on his part, has accused Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane of maligning his image by giving statements against him on social media. He has also threatened to file a defamation case against the duo, asking them for an “unconditional apology and to withdraw messages from social media”.
Kashyap’s decision comes soon after MAMI decided to drop films by AIB and actor Rajat Kapoor, namely Chintu Ka Birthday and Kadakh, from its lineup in the upcoming 20th edition of the festival. Rajat and AIB co-founders Tanmay Bhat and Gursimran Khamba have also been accused by women of sexual harassment. While Rajat in a statement issued his apology, Tanmay and Khamba have been relieved of their duties at AIB.