Actor Sayani Gupta on Friday said that men should sit at home if they don’t know how to behave. The actor, who was speaking at the world premiere of Shame at the 20th MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star, also added that women should also be careful that they don’t expose themselves to unsafe environments.
In an interview with indianexpress.com, Sayani lauded the women who have come out with their stories of sexual harassment in the Hindi film industry.
“I am so proud and I couldn’t have been prouder and happier. I am so grateful to these women who have been so courageous to have shared their experiences. To first face these things themselves and then talk about them in front of the world, it’s so inspiring.
“This should have happened 15-20 years ago. This has been happening for generations now. It just takes one person to talk about it. I am so grateful to Tanushree for starting it out,” Sayani Gupta said.
Celebrities like Vikas Bahl, Sajid Khan, Nana Patekar and Alok Nath have been named and shamed as alleged sexual offenders. Bollywood has also taken a stand against the accused with stars disassociating from them on a professional level.
When asked how she felt about the ostracisation of the accused, Sayani said it was the need of the hour that perpetrators of sexual harassment be punished.
“I am all for going and beating them up. Of course, one can’t take law in their hand. I was groped by an old man in a bus when I was seven or eight. All I did was with all my might squashed his foot and he screamed. That’s what you do. You defend yourself.”
The actor, however, added that women have the sense to discern strange behaviour or a weird gaze and so, they should avoid putting themselves in an unsafe space.
“There’s a lot of responsibility when you know that the person is untrustworthy and women have the sixth sense. You can’t deny that. You know when you are talking to a man or a woman, who is acting weird or strangely or has a weird gaze, so don’t go in there. Don’t go into that room. Don’t expose yourself to an unsafe environment. What did our mothers teach us? You have to be safe.
“We have to be careful and also live with dignity and not let go of it at any cost. Don’t be afraid to speak out and call a spade a spade no matter how influential the person in front of you is. That shouldn’t matter,” the actor said.
Sayani Gupta also talked about the effect of allegations on the families of the accused. She said, “I am a big believer of that rapists should sit at home. I feel terrible for the families who are going through this. We shouldn’t be pulling children or wives into this because they are already going through really traumatic times. They are either learning something new about their father, brother or son. Or they already knew about them and now they are being publicly shamed now. It’s not their fault that they have a creep in their families.”
Sayani also said that the MeToo movement is not gender specific because even women have been predators. “It’s really about how one person has an upper hand and he or she takes advantage of that power to put someone else down. It’s amazing that we have begun discussing this.”