Actor Lara Dutta witnessed Housefull director Sajid Khan, who has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, behave inappropriately with a female actor on the film’s set, revealed her tennis star husband Mahesh Bhupathi at We The Women event on Sunday.
“We were in London at that time. She would come home and her closest friend was her hair dresser and they both would be complaining about how one of her co-stars was being treated by the director. Rude, vulgar.
“I told her, ‘You guys are all complicit. All the four of you, who were in the film, were listening to what he was saying and not telling him it’s not ok. So, at some level you guys are complicit and she agreed,” Bhupathi said.
The moderator, journalist Barkha Dutt countered him, saying one cannot ignore that it was a coercive environment. Other actors’ work depended on Khan so it would have been difficult for them to speak against him.
To which, Bhupathi said that the fear of losing work is valid but not big enough to not speak against a perpetrator.
“I come from the sports industry where we think differently. In sports, the cream always rises to the top. If you’re good at what you do, you are going to win matches and get results. Obviously, the film industry is different. If the fraternity decides to ostracise you, you don’t get work. But I don’t think its a good enough reason to let things like these slide,” he said.
Barkha further asked him the reasons Lara Dutta and her hair-dresser friend gave for not speaking up. “I think her explanation was the girl was sitting right here and she was ok with it or taking it.”
Mahesh Bhupathi also criticised top Bollywood stars, without naming any, for not speaking on MeToo openly.
“I don’t think the cream of the industry has supported the movement. No one said anything. Everyone is on their super-fast path to success at different levels and if it’s not affecting them, it’s not affecting them,” he said.