Following the news of Phantom Films getting dissolved, a sexual harassment survivor and Kangana Ranaut, the lead actress of the movie Queen directed by Vikas Bahl, have accused and spoken up about their experiences and raw of sexual harassment incidents by the Bahl. Anurag Kashyap, another partner of Phantom Film, has also confirmed the statements stating, “Its all my fault. I did not do much to bring justice”
Victim and director Anurag Kashyap recall the ‘2015 incident’
In a recent article in Huffpost India, the woman has reiterated the allegations, sharing details about the incident.
Giving a detailed account of the incidents that took place, the night of 5 May, 2015, the woman told that Phantom Films was gearing up for the promotions of their upcoming period drama Bombay Velvet. The survivor continued saying, “After the film’s pre-release bash (attended by almost all the cast and crew), Bahl, herself and a few other crew members continued their celebrations. When the party finally wrapped up, Bahl offered to assist her to her hotel room. After initial resistance, I finally agreed when Bahl insisted that she ought not to walk alone. Not suspecting Bahl otherwise, due to his normal behaviour prior to the day, she agreed that Bahl accompany her.”
Once in the room, the woman narrated, Bahl followed her. He seemed unable to move under the alcohol inebriation despite the woman’s repeated attempts to wake him up.
Bahl dropped his pants and began masturbating, says the woman. Distraught and disoriented, the woman did not face him and Bahl masturbated onto her back. Before leaving the room, the woman recollects Bahl’s last words, he had said, “F**k you bi***.”
Shocked, the woman confided in friends and a few associates at Phantom. One of them told her to report the incident to Kashyap, whom she worked under.
According to the report, in October 2015, the woman decided to open up to Kashyap. On hearing the account, Kashyap commented saying he did not want to “know” the specifics at the point but he promised to fix it.
While speaking to Huffpost, Kashyap confessed to the same and agreed to having a “vague memory” of the encounter.
The woman stated that despite knowing the truth for almost about two years, Phantom founders did not do much about it. No action was taken while Bahl continued to harass her until she finally quit the company.
“Whatever happened was wrong. We didn’t handle it well, we failed. I cannot blame anyone but myself,” Kashyap said. “But now we are determined to do better. We believe her completely. She has our undying support. What Bahl has done is horrifying. We are already on our path of course correction and will do everything in our capacity to fix it.” – kashyap
Kashyap told HuffPost India that Phantom’s contracts are such that they don’t have a clause to remove a partner over ‘misconduct’. (HuffPost India couldn’t independently review the contracts.)
He sat down with a team of lawyers who categorically told they couldn’t remove Bahl. As it turned out, firing Bahl wasn’t an option. Bahl wasn’t an employee at Phantom, he was a part-owner.
With the production house’s recent declaration of parting ways, the woman feels the move was a ‘preemptive measure’. Regretful of the many who lost their jobs despite not being a part of the ordeal, she stated that she’d take the stance with a pinch of salt.
Vikas Bahl would hold me tight, smell my hair: Kangana Ranaut
After the article went viral, “Queen” actor Kangana Ranaut also raised her voice against Bahl, the director of the movie.
During a recent interview with India Today, Kangana spoke up in support of the survivor who accused the director of sexual harassment (in a separate interview to Huffington Post India) and told India Today, “Totally believe her.”
During the interview, the 31-year-old actress recalled the times she met the director and said that he would “hold her really tight” and would “smell her hair.” “But still every time we met, socially greeted and hugged each other, he’d bury his face in my neck, hold me really tight and breathe in the smell of my hair. It took me great amount of strength and effort to pull myself out of his embrace. He’d say ‘I love how you smell K’. I could tell something is wrong with him,” Kangana told India Today.