What do you think about this system I seem to have stumbled in to? I can’t possibly cover every MeToo story, but it seems to work sort of okay if I start the discussion with one small aspect of one small story and everyone else can add links and discussion of other stories. Does that work? Maybe? I’ll keep trying it until it seems to stop working.
Disclaimer: Like the last post, this isn’t the most important story of the day or the most relevant or even the one I might care about the most. It is just something that makes a nice small case study for us to look at together.
Today what I want to talk about is how not everyone sees the same things the same way, or remembers them the same way. And that doesn’t mean one of them must be lying, that is just what is sometimes. People see things through their own filters.
There are now 3 different accounts of what was happening on the Queen set. And they could all be true. 3 different women working in 3 different areas who experienced things in 3 different ways.
It would be easy to simply pick one over the other, say the other two are completely absolutely wrong. That is the easy answer. But that’s not how the world works.
The better, harder answer is to realize they are all telling the truth, and that all of these things could be true simultaneously. And that we, as humans living in a society, have to learn how to accept that, to accept that it is much more common for people to simply not have seen the same thing than for one person to be telling the truth and the other lying.
Kangana on her experiences during the shoot of Queen, bolded by me to highlight her specific stories of experiences, (link 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)
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’.
Whatever the girl has accused Vikas Bahl is not at all wrong because he also tried his hand on me. I literally told him that ‘main tumhe maarungi if you do this again’. So I am sure he did the same with the girl in question as well….Next day, when I came on the sets, something went wrong with my hair. I didn’t get it as it’s not my area of concern. But Vikas blasted me and he behaved very weird with me. Now when I look back, I realized that why this behavior. Since he did not get a chance on me, he was taking revenge.”
They kept us in a 2-star hotel. When I said that I am not comfortable, Vikas told me that he can share his room with me. Look at his audacity!
We were shooting for the ‘London Thumakda’ song and in the crew, there was a 21-year-old local Delhi girl who was in the costume department. Vikas flirted even with her and she was very uncomfortable and she later confided to me that why this person is always behind me. Even Kangana Ranaut was witness to this drama and even she was taken aback. She remarked, ‘Tu pagal hai kya?’”
I did not say anything then. I was quiet at that time as firstly, I was alone. I did not know anyone neither from Phantom nor from the cast. Hence, I remained mum and decided to speak when the time is right. Now I thought that the time is right.
Phantom Films paid me peanuts. They haggled as if they are buying vegetables. And nobody out there talks properly. The production people used to talk to us so badly as if woh humein film de ke hum pe ehsaan kar rahe hai. They kept me in a vanity van which was a mere 6×6 cubicle. All the props of production make up and costume was kept there and also the chest in which all these things are stored. The make-up and hair guys were also inside this small space. They had no respect for me – nobody would ask if they can use my washroom. They’ll just knock, barge in, use the loo and leave. One day, when my hair-stylist was doing my hair, my hair got stuck in the blow dryer and she had to cut that chunk of the hair to get rid of it. Then once my hand accidentally touched the bulb, since there was no space, and I got burnt badly. I told them that I am burnt and need attention and medication. But just one production guy approached me, handed me a tube of Colgate toothpaste and asked me to apply it on the affected area. That’s it. No apologies offered! I requested them to give me a bigger vanity van but I was told that ‘yahan sab aise hi hai’ and that I have to adjust. Moreover, Vikas humiliated me in front of everyone the day I got burnt, as I had rejected his proposal. I used to go to my hotel room in Delhi and cry and was hoping that the shoot would get over soon.”
When I got fed up with the hotel room offered to me, I decided to shift to a friend’s place. But they didn’t even allow me to stay there as they had paid for the room! Yeh kya zabardasti hai? They even told me that they won’t pick me up from my friend’s place, which was just 2 kms away from the hotel, by the way….I witnessed production money being used for partying and boozing in the five-star hotels where they were staying.
The food offered was very spicy. The production guys would speak rudely to us when we complained. Moreover, we were told that if we asked for tea at night, we’d have to pay for it from our own pockets! Can you believe that?! They even forced us to travel by train from Mumbai to Delhi, citing that even our director is traveling by train. But I put my foot down and thankfully, we were given air tickets.
I had to cry to get my own payment. I got my final instalment 8 months after Queen released. It was a meagre Rs. 8000 and yet, I had to fight for it. Everytime I’d call, they’ll refuse on some pretext or other like producer bahar gaya hai, aaj woh bahar gaya hai etc. I didn’t attend the screening or premiere or the trailer launch of the film. I promised myself never to work with Vikas Bahl or Phantom Films. I have told about my experience to all my friends in FTII and I have warned them that if Phantom Films call you for a movie and if you charge ten rupees, then please ask for twenty rupees and only then would they offer you eight rupees!
[Vikramaditya Motwane} is the only guy whom I admire. He is just interested in his work and has nothing to do with anyone…I have not met [Anurag Kashyap] so I can’t comment.
[Vikas Bahl] has zero knowledge on filmmaking. By God’s grace, we had a great team, including his chief AD. She knew her work very well. It’s all her contribution and Vikas just took the credit and the National Award. Warna jisne Queen banaya, woh Shaandaar jaisi itni buri film kaise bana sakta hai.
Anonymous Costume Department Worker, Reached Out Directly to Bollywoodhungama After Reading Nayani’s Story (link here: http://www.bollywoodhungama.com/news/features/intern-sets-queen-dismisses-kanganas-allegations-vikas-bahl/)
So, you say you are the 21 year old girl who worked in the Costumes department in Queen who was allegedly sexually abused by Vikas Bahl as stated by Nayani Dixit in her interview. Are you confirming whatever was stated by Nayani?
Whatever she has said here is not at all true. What she has mentioned about costume department and girl confiding in her is not at all true because Vikas has personally been always very cordial. He was very professional. So he never flirted or something like that. We all are good friends and this is the kind of thing people are saying is completely wrong and I mean I am quite shocked. There is clearly mentioned in the article that Nayani is saying that 21 year Costume department girl confided in her or something which is a complete lie.
So who’s that 21 year old girl?
Yeah I was in a costume department, it was me.
Alright and what’s your name?
I don’t want my name to be mentioned in this thing, I don’t want to get involved in that form or something.
So you are saying that nothing of this sort had happened and Vikas Bahl was absolutely cordial with you.
Nothing. I mean I am shocked to read this. He has always been so cordial and he helped us many times professionally so you know we had actually come on internship basis for this movie from our college. We lived in Delhi so we were there we would be handling and nothing of this sort happened. I mean the way she has mentioned in the article, nothing of that sort happened and not even once has he misbehaved or tried to flirt or something like he has always been like a mentor. He has always guided us and not even once has he done something like this.
And how long did you have the interaction with her?
So Nayani was there for only 2-3 months, the time which we shot in Delhi. Queen was shot in Paris also and Nayani wasn’t present there but the part which was shot in Delhi, the 2 months part shot in Delhi which she is mentioning about, for entire Delhi part we were there. I was handling Kangna‘s costume as well. And you know it is mentioned in that but nothing of this sort has happened, he never flirted, he never misbehaved. Nothing of this sort ever happened.
Nayani has said that people would come in her room and use the loo…
I don’t know about her accommodation. That I have no idea but you know when it comes to sets, I don’t know if something like that happened when I was not present but whenever I was present I haven’t seen a situation like this that because apparently you know in the whole movie set it was very easy to approach Vikas and talk to him about any of these kind of things and you know I haven’t seen him yelling at someone or mentioning that we didn’t get food or food was spicy or something rather I would say that food was really good. And then you know what he was present there and shooting and we were comfortable there and I didn’t see even once anything like this happening, I mean, you know when I read about this article I was just like you know it was biased or something like that and you know she has very well mentioned in that the girl confided in her, this is like such a lie you know. She can say anything about herself but why she is saying anything about anyone else which is not even true?
Alright, so do you feel because the fact is that since Vikas Bahl is now already in the dock due to allegations so it’s rather easy for anybody to gain publicity, that’s what you feel ?
Yes it’s a fact. It’s true. Basically I did want to talk about this because it’s clearly mentioned and you can check it out that it was about costume people and it was me.
Since you have the integrity to just call up and mention all of this, I think you should mention your name.
See the only point is I don’t want my name coming in article because I am married and settled abroad…
Okay, so how many other films you worked on?
I have worked on three films and a couple of shows. I have done a lot of freelancing ads and all that as well.
Okay so you know what suddenly happening is that after this entire Tanushree Dutt matter and the way it has no-balled and even the Vikas Bahl matter the way it was no-balled what is happening is that everybody is thinking that film industry is not a safe place for women and so many men lurking around, what is your personal opinion? Do you think that, have you encountered any predatory man, as you said you live in Delhi and you were working here?
No, not really. Nothing of this sort I mean you know, think something happening on the set or something you know people outlook or whatever the situation is happening, I just wanted to talk about this particular article and not anything else. I just want to mention and clarify the whole fact that I have not seen… I mean he is a good person; he is a very good person. I have always respected him and he has always given respect to me, you know and to rest of the girls also. I think he has never misbehaved, I didn’t see him yelling and never something of this sort like flirting, you know I just think how can people make such story or put wrong allegations on someone which is really wrong. I am like, genuinely respect the person because he has so much knowledge about everything and he is such a respectable and he has always been so decent to us and nothing of this sort has happened so you know, that’s all what I wanted to talk about. And about set and all, I think its fine. It’s all about how you conduct yourself and how you take care of yourself, that’s all it is about…
So now Kangna has also issued a statement that Vikas tried to act fresh with her and physically come close to her. Since you were on the sets, did you at any point see any unprofessional behaviour?
No. I didn’t actually. I mean I haven’t seen him doing anything of this sort because I was handling Kangna’s costumes so I didn’t see any kind of these things happening, not at all. And you that shows whole process is very different. Kangna and all would come on sets later on like you know early in the morning these guys would go and Vikas would also go at 6 O’ clock to set up everything on the sets. I would go with Kangna because I was handling her costumes and she would come later at the night and then we would shoot on the sets. So everyone was present there and nothing of that sort happened. I didn’t see anything of this sort. And you know I also want to just mention that I am such a good friend of Vikas and not only me my husband is also such a good friend of Vikas. So imagine such things, I mean he flirting and all are baseless rumours.
Vikas has completely gone into a shell so he is not speaking to anyone, he has not presented his side of the story so how do you look at this, and how do you think Vikas should be dealing with something like this?
Sorry, no comments on that.
(1 movie, 3 months, 3 perspectives)
So, what do we have here? We have the lead actress who worked closely with Vikas and stayed at the same 5 star hotel as he did. We have a supporting actress who had a miserable experience dealing with all kinds of production issues and no respect or concern from Vikas about them, along with disrespect of her person. And we have a very very young woman on her first film set working with the crew who only saw Vikas in work situations and found him kind and respectful and professional.
All of these versions of Vikas can easily be true. The man you are for a powerful actress you are collaborating with and the man you are for the 21 year old who worships you could be very different. And the expectations of a local Delhi student working on her first film and an FTII grad working her 3rd film are very different. What looks like uncomfortable attention to one can look like kind mentoring to the other, just like spicy unedible food for one can be good food for the other.
Even the original incident described (and I sympathize with the anonymous woman’s anger at feeling like her life was misrepresented) could be true from both sides. Perhaps she felt a moment of discomfort that passed so quickly she does not remember saying anything about it to someone. Perhaps she said something that Nayani interpreted as a complaint because of her own experiences but was not intended that way.
And that’s okay. That’s something we, reading these stories, have to just accept. That someone can be an angel to one person and a devil to another. And it doesn’t mean the first person is lying or the second is exaggerating. Even something as contained as a 2 month film shoot can contain worlds within worlds, societies within societies, and you can become a different person as you move between them.