Dutta, who now lives in the US, is in India to visit her family. In interviews over the last couple of days, she has alleged that actor Nana Patekar sexually harassed her during a film shoot ten years ago.
“I left the film industry almost ten years ago. I stand to gain or lose nothing from this exercise. All I want is that my endeavour encourages other women in the industry to call out harassers,” she said on Thursday. “When someone says he or she has been robbed, no one casts a doubt. But when a woman claims that she has been assaulted or harassed, her ‘character’ is examined, and often assassinated, before the discussion even begins,” Dutta said.
She said the alleged incident transpired when she was shooting for a song for 2009 film Horn ‘Ok’ Pleassss. “It was a bullying tactic and Nana Patekar misbehaved with me. He got choreographer Ganesh Acharya to change the steps on the day of the shoot to include intimate moves. I walked out of the shoot. The producer later called goons to harass me while I waited in my vanity van for my family members to arrive. As I was leaving with my parents, the goons attacked the car,” she alleged.
Dutta further alleged that several members of the industry, including the film’s producer Samee Siddiqui and director Rakesh Sarang, were aware of the incident and chose to side with Patekar.
The Indian Express reached out to Patekar but he remained unavailable for a comment. In interviews to a television channel, Acharya, Patekar and Sarang have dismissed Dutta’s allegations.
Dutta said her complaint to Cine and Television Artists Association went unheeded. “I developed a fear of returning to the sets and that made me give up acting.”
The actor said she had filed an FIR soon after the incident but the producers filed a counter-FIR and used it to harass her family. “I can share the documented evidence if I want to but that will take away from the point I am trying to make. I may have all the evidence but tomorrow, if an actor chooses to speak up, will her word be dismissed if she doesn’t have any documentation?”
“My fight is not against Nana Patekar — of course I would be happy if this exercise brings me justice — but my primary goal is to point out the hypocrisy and misogyny in the industry,” she said.