Before the world could get over with the molestation allegations against the TVF Founder, Arunabh Kumar, another major production house’s co-founder has come under the scrutiny.
According to the reports, a young woman working at Phantom Films had alleged that she was molested by Vikas Bahl, director of the much-acclaimed Queen, during a trip to Goa a few months ago. Following her complaint to the other stakeholders at Phantom, Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane and Madhu Mantena, the matter was escalated to Reliance Entertainment with whom Phantom has a 50-50 joint venture.
Following the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in the Vishakha v The State of Rajasthan (1997), the iconic case that dealt with sexual harassment against women at workplace, the company has established a committee to look into the matter.
One of the stakeholders who spoke on the condition of anonymity said: “We (Reliance Entertainment and Phantom Films) have taken a hard stand, based on what we have heard and investigated.” According to him and several others close to the development, Vikas Bahl, who had already stopped attending office, was formally told on March 28 to step down from his position.”
“The decision needed to be taken because it was getting too much,” said the stakeholder. “There are not one, two or three but multiple victims. I was in the middle of a film shoot when I came to know about the first incident and I had to stop my shoot and come to Mumbai… there is (after all) a young girl on whom an intoxicated Vikas forced himself while they were in Goa. He has behaved badly in the past as well but when this specific complaint came, we needed to act on it.”
But the man himself has finally come out of the closet and issued a statement, which goes like this- “Nothing has happened. I am running the company. There is no complaint to HR and there is no Vishakha committee. I have heard about this particular lady you are speaking about and the Goa incident. She is not my employee. Yes, I am friends with her, we have worked together and there is a production job we have done together…but if she is feeling like this I would like to sit across a table from her and talk to her. I want to ask her if I have crossed a line, whether I have done anything to hurt her and if she feels that way I would like to apologise for it. I have known her for long. For two-and-ahalf years she has never made me feel as if she is uncomfortable (around me). I have worked very hard to be the person I have become. I do feel a little victimised but I don’t know what to do about that,” he said, adding that it was not a case of a relationship gone wrong either.”
Every coin has two sides, so we only have to wait which side is speaking the truth.