Barely a year after the #MeToo movement struck Bollywood like a tornado and shook its patriarchal foundations, India’s tinsel town appears to be have pushed the dirt under the carpet. Alleged sexual predators named, shamed and ostracised during the campaign—inspired by a similar movement in Hollywood—are slowly being rehabilitated even as fresh charges have surfaced against powerful men, accused of soliciting sex in exchange for work from young actresses. The industry, which took a high moral ground by banishing the predators a year ago, has now turned around to the view that nobody from its fraternity should be presumed guilty or rendered jobless until the alleged misdemeanour is proven through a legal process. By all means, the proverbial Augean stables remain as dirty as ever, the casting couch out in the open once again. And it is the victims who are out of job, not the perpetrators.
That is, perhaps, the reason why new allegations don’t name the accused. But the charges are serious, nevertheless. Actress Zareen Khan says she was asked by a director to “rehearse a kissing scene” with him so that she could “let go off her inhibitions”. According to Surveen Chawla, a director wanted to see how her cleavage looked, another wanted to have a look at her thighs. Elle Abram alleges that a director scratched her palm with his middle finger when they shook hands, a gesture seen as the coded signal for soliciting sex.