How do you prove you have been sexually harassed?
So, the story goes. A Bollywood actor and former Miss India kickstarted a firestorm when she slapped (ahem! figuratively) veteran actor Nana Patekar with charges of sexual harassment.
She said and I quote: Nana Patekar touched me inappropriately while we were shooting for a song for the movie 'Horn Ok Pleasss' in 2008.
Various women followed suit. A screenwriter accused Bollywood movies' habitual patriarch Alok Nath of rape. An employee of Fuh se Phantom production house said she was raped by filmmaker Vikas Bahl. A leading Bollywood singer said she was assaulted by music composer Anu Malik. And so on and so forth.
And this was just a tip of the iceberg. Twitter was flooded with stories of #MeToo.
People thought that was it. This was Bollywood's #MeToo -- careers would be destroyed.
And there were a few minor impediments.
Alok Nath stopped shooting for a project he had undertaken, the crew members of 'Houseful 3' disassociated themselves from Nana Patekar, Vikas Bahl was robbed of direction credits for 'Super 30' and Anu Malik's seat at 'Indian Idol' was given to singer Javed Ali.
Months later, the #MeToo died a natural death.
Alok Nath appeared in 'De De Pyaar De'.
Several men followed suit. Kailash Kher and Rajkumar Hirani were invited to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's swearing in ceremony; Vikas Bahl was back as 'Super 30' director; Anu Malik was re-appointed as 'Indian Idol' judge and Mr Patekar was cleared of all charges. Ahem!
And why? Because there was no credible evidence.
And why not? Because a woman does not go about wearing a camera that must record all incidents of sexual harassment.
Or should she?
EVIDENCE. Now that is the operative word here.
How do you ACTUALLY prove you have been sexually harassed? FOR REAL?
Bollywood's much-hyped, but damp squib, #MeToo movement has taught me a thing or two about women, their needs, sexual harassment, consent and in general, life in Bollywood.
Here's presenting the ten commandments of Bollywood's #MeToo:
Firstly, wear a video camera all the time. Yes. Like a pendant in your gold chain. Should anything happen, click and capture. Yayy! UNLEARN REAL PENDANTS.
Secondly, should any absurd thing happen, yell. Bhai, yell at the top of your voice. Don't wait for ten years to come out. Why would you? You're a strong woman. Strong women don't feel the horror, shame, guilt, and the myriad feelings of sexual harassment. They yell. And they tell. Simple. UNLEARN SHAME.
Third, don't say you don't have proof. He touched you, bro. Finger prints honey chahiye. Don't take a bath for days until you are checked for those damned finger prints. Or semen. UNLEARN BATHING.
Fourth, don't say you hate men. Now, I understand your hatred comes from a few idiots who might have mistreated you or shoved their misogynistic a** into your face. But why do you have to hate all the men for that? Feminists think men want to touch them all the time. Na? Huh! Feminazia! UNLEARN FIGHTING FOR EQUALITY.
Fifth, don't wear short clothes. Log kya kahengey? Don't invite men to touch you, girl. UNLEARN FASHION.
Sixth, don't be a prude either. Because you just might be an undercover wannabe. Who knows?! UNLEARN YOURSELF.
Seventh, relax. Okay? It was a normal touch, a snub, a nudge of the elbow. Why do you have to think he harassed you? Get rid of that self importance. UNLEARN SELF CARE.
Eighth, don't drink with that guy. Sanskaari women anyway don't drink. And if you do drink with the perpetrator, because you thought he knew the concept of consent, you're the bigger culprit. Don't play victim. UNLEARN BEING YOURSELF.
Ninth, don't expect others to stand up for you. Let's face it. You're a starlet. And he, such a big name. He can crush you with his mighty feet. And he has connections. Your career will meet an untimely death. And of course, livelihood is much more important than integrity. Bahot mehengaayi hai bhai! UNLEARN THE CONCEPT OF SOCIETY.
Tenth, if you think you can cause a stir by timely reporting an incident, badger off. It will be but a minor hitch. Phir kya hoga? Super 30 Housefull hogi. Simple. UNLEARN JUSTICE.
Understand? You better.
And now, let's give a shoutout and ask what's up, you guys? Expecting Houseful shows in Super 30?
Well! Me Too.