We have now entered the stage of the news cycle when the actual thing gets hidden under people talking about the thing, and then people talking about talking about the thing. So, fine, I will contribute to the talking about talking about with the only exchange I find particularly remarkable. Other people said eloquent things, wrong things, right things, and so on. It’s just that this exchange is so odd, I can’t help but repeat it so you can tell me “no, you’re right, it is odd!” And so it can also serve as a reminder of the kind of public discourse that somehow goes without comment in the Hindi film industry.
Kangana’s quote from 2015 when the story originally broke (Link with video: https://indianexpress.com/article/entertainment/bollywood/kangana-ranaut-on-molestation-claims-against-queen-director-vikas-bahl-very-courageous-of-a-woman-to-speak-4608712/):
She was asked about it at an event for a a clothing brand, she didn’t seek out a reporter or write something in advance, and this is what she said. And I am going to highlight the portions I find notable:
It’s a very serious issue. I can only say that it is very courageous of a woman to come out and speak about sexual harassment. It’s not regarding this particular event, because I am not the party involved, but generally speaking, women who face this should be encouraged to talk about it by their families and their colleagues without feeling ashamed about it,
More women should come out and talk about whatever they feel because that’s how there will be awareness about these issues and of course, there will always be another side of the story as well and then there will be the authorities, who can decide what is the right thing to do. But people should speak up about whatever they feel, whether they are right or wrong, they must speak up and discuss.
To me, it reads like a very cautious statement, turning it into a general comment that it is good to talk about sexual harassment, and then immediately backing up and referring to another side of the story, that it is the responsibility of the authorities, and finally ending with an indication that the person speaking up may actually be wrong.
Kangana interview two days ago (link to interview here: https://www.indiatoday.in/movies/bollywood/story/kangana-ranaut-on-vikas-bahl-he-d-bury-his-face-in-my-neck-and-hold-me-tight-1357594-2018-10-06):
This was an “exclusive” interview with India Today, meaning she arranged it in advance in some way. It isn’t simply a statement released to add to the public record, and it also isn’t an ambush at an unrelated event. Again, I have highlighted the parts I find interesting.
Totally believe her. Even though Vikas was married back in 2014 when we were filming Queen, he bragged about having casual sex with a new partner every other day. I don’t judge people and their marriages but you can tell when addiction becomes sickness. He partied every night and shamed me for sleeping early and not being cool enough.
I often told him off. He was scared of me but still every time we met, socially greeted and hugged each other, he’d bury his face in my neck and 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. I believe this girl. But what is sad, is that now that Phantom has been dissolved, many are attacking him, even though the girl asked for help long ago. At that time, the story was conveniently killed, but I supported her at that time as well. You can see my media interaction during one of my brand endorsement interactions. I thought the movement [MeToo] would catch up but I was wrong.
At that time Vikas had come to me with a script about a gold medalist from Haryana. When I supported the girl, he stopped talking to me. I didn’t mind losing out on a good script and I never called him either. I was determined to say what I felt was right. The matter was pushed under the carpet and I didn’t hear any updates on the same.
It’s amusing that after the news of Phantom dissolution many are finding the courage to attack him. Shame on such a society. Go look at yourselves in the mirror, bunch of cowards, attacking powerless men won’t begin a movement. Either we do it or we don’t. Let’s not be opportunists. If we are a shit society, let’s accept it, at least have that much honesty within yourself. Selective outrage will only serve as entertainment, this will just be tabloid gossip and nothing else.
I am a little lost here. She saw him as a cheating married man who also shamed her for going to bed early but was afraid of her. She was talking with him about a script even after all of that, and then he was the one who stopped talking to her.
We have her original statement, it is right there, and I am not seeing much of a support. It’s not not-supportive, that is true, and I can see why Vikas might not want to work with her after that statement. But I am not seeing the burning righteous anger in the original statement that she indicates here. Or a strong reluctance to work with Vikas afterwards in how she describes the sequence of events. He was the one who dropped her, even after his misbehavior with her on set and her belief (she claims) in the girl’s story, he was the one who backed away from the project, not her.
But this interview is what people say, you rewrite history in your own mind to make yourself the hero, to justify your choices. I have done the same many times, I am sure many of you have caught me on it here, I will change positions or slightly alter an anecdote unconsciously just to make me feel better about myself. Perfectly human. A little foolish to do it if there is easily accessible video that disproves your statements, but still human. And I guess not that foolish since no one but me seems to have bothered to track down the original video.
Sonam’s comment on Kangana’s current statement (link here: https://www.hindustantimes.com/bollywood/sonam-kapoor-says-hard-to-take-kangana-ranaut-seriously-kangana-vows-to-demolish-filmi-people/story-IZnwEHGm3D6vXdfKslGXWJ.html):
This was at a day long event to highlight women’s issues co-sponsored Facebook, Vogue, the UN, and PriceWaterhouseCooper. Tanushree Dutta was also present. Sonam was asked by Barkha Dutt (the moderator) if she thought the film industry would support the accuser in the Vikas Bahl case.
I think Kangana wrote something. Kangana is obviously Kangana Ranaut. She says a lot of stuff and sometimes is hard to take her seriously. I love the fact that she has spunk and she says what she believes. I really respect for that. I don’t know him, I don’t know the situation. If what is written what is written is true, then it’s disgusting and awful. If it’s true, then they should be punished for it.
This whole thing happened at Phantom. I find it disgusting. If you read that article, it is disgusting. And I know these people, I know all of them. I don’t know how I will deal with these people. All I know is I believe this woman. I find this behavior despicable and cowardly. When my father read these articles (Tanushree and Phantom stories), he said whatever is happening to these men, they deserve it. I come from a background like that. I said I know dad; then why is nobody saying anything or doing anything. ‘He said: beta, the world is such but we need to change it.’ So, I mean, even if it is one person saying something, it makes a difference.
Sonam is never the most articulate person in her public statements. And you can see the self-correction at the start, she pulls herself together and changes her statement on Kangana to make it less insulting without contradicting it. I’m assuming the start is the honest part, because honesty usually sneaks out either at the beginning or the end of these statements. But it was actually an appropriate answer, the question was if she thinks people in the industry will speak out about Vikas, she used Kangana as an example of someone who has, and then talked about herself and what she might or might not do.
And she contradicts herself as well, starting with “if if” but then changing it to “I believe this woman”. But she is careful to remain non-specific, to say she knows these people without specifying who she knows or how well, and she throws in a personal story at the end, the only one who can contradict it being her own father. So, over all, not terrible for someone to pull out in response to an unexpected question, she must have prepared the ending in advance, she just had to get there from the start of it.
And, of course, this was a completely appropriate forum for her to be asked the question and answer it, since it was an event about women in India.
Kangana’s Response to Sonam (link here: https://www.pinkvilla.com/entertainment/exclusives/kangana-ranaut-sonam-k-ahuja-s-it-s-hard-take-kangana-seriously-who-gives-her-right-judge-me-428154):
This was “exclusive” to Pinkvilla. Pinkvilla being the place that you can call up and they will print anything. This wasn’t a carefully thought out public post, and this wasn’t a carefully prepared scheduled interview. And Pinkvilla seemed to have edited her down a bit based on the ellipses, who know how long it was originally.
What does she mean by saying, “its hard to believe Kangana” When I am sharing my me too story, who gives her a right to judge me? So, Sonam Kapoor has the license of trusting some women and some she won’t…What makes her so unsure of my claims, I am known to be an articulate person, I have represented my country in many international summits, I am called as a thought and youth influencer to these summits, I am not known because of my dad I have earned my place and credibility after struggling for a decade.
“She isn’t known to be a great actress, neither she has the reputation of being a good speaker…… What gives these filmy people right to take digs at me!!!! I will demolish each one of them.
This is just inappropriate. If one of the 8 year olds spoke like this in my Sunday School class, I would send them out of the room. It is also odd to mention representing her country at international summits, considering Sonam in fact gave this statement at an international summit. And then dismissing her as a “filmy” person, which is an odd insult since surely Kangana is also a “filmy” person?
Sonam’s response posted on instagram (link here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BoqqMuwHkc0/?utm_source=ig_embed)
Some reports refer to Kangana as making, “statements”, but she didn’t really, she didn’t sit down and write things out, she spoke in interviews and quotes were picked and chosen by the author. Sonam gave one answer to a question, which isn’t quite the same, it was short and it was printed in its entirety almost everywhere. And she did the same here, one simple statement that she could control directly.
View this post on Instagram
Women need to stand together! irresponsible media have misquoted me or taken my quote out of context and made other women react. All I want to say is that all I have is compassion and love for you. I’m proud of where I come from and so should every other woman or man. Let’s stand together and speak up. Let’s not pull each other down with bitterness and negativity. Love is always the answer. ☮️ 💖 drawing by @stayinkspired
I appreciate that Sonam refuses to apologize for her existence. She says “I’m proud of where I come from and so should every other woman or man”. And I appreciate that she ends with a general call for standing together and speaking up.
Maybe she did mean the original dig at Kangana, maybe she is complicit in the cover up of all these things, but she is trying to end this exchange in the only way it can, with both sides just letting it drop and moving on to other things. And she is doing it cleanly and clearly on a public forum that does not allow for quotes to be edited or removed from context.
So, that’s it! That’s the only exchange out of alllllllll of them that have become public which I find interesting. Not admirable necessarily or intelligent or poetic or any of that, but interesting.