Actress who helped trigger India’s #MeToo movement won’t back down


MUMBAI — The Bollywood actress who helped trigger the #MeToo movement in India challenging sexual harassment and abuse sees it as part of her religious education after an experience 10 years ago she said effectively ended her career.

Dutta, who said she was inspired by Christianity, Buddhism, yoga and the #MeToo movement in the United States, said last month that prominent actor Nana Patekar had sexually harassed her on the set of a movie in 2008. Patekar has denied wrongdoing.

Dutta said Patekar, 67, had demanded she do intimate dance steps with him in one song in the Hindi-language romantic comedy “Horn OK Pleassss”. When she refused, she said, members of a far right-wing Hindu group attacked her car while she was in it, including jumping on the roof and trying to smash the windscreen.

Dutta, who walked out of the movie, went public with the allegations the same day, but was threatened with legal action by the Hindu group and felt so shamed by those questioning her story and by the way the Indian media treated her that she left Bollywood altogether and went to live in the United States.

“All of that disgusted me - it took my faith and confidence from the industry,” she said in an interview. “I didn’t want to work here. I still kept in touch and did some work which needed short-term commitments.” — Reuters