Imran Khan on Vikas Bahl: Heard his stories from three other actresses
The #MeToo movement is gaining momentum in the country, and several influential personalities from Bollywood have also been named and shamed. Fingers have been pointed at Nana Patekar, Alok Nath and Vikas Bahl, among others.
Imran Khan told a leading website that though he wanted to speak out earlier, but he was advised to remain silent because his comments would be dismissed as a publicity gimmick.
He said, "I think it was long long long overdue. There have been times when I wanted to speak out. I was advised to stay quiet because they said people will assume I am trying to grab publicity. They (people) will say I am trying to become relevant and come in the news since my films have not worked well. Time and again, people around me will tell me to not speak up."
"There are a lot of things that have happened in front of me and bothered me for years. Even after being aware of so many things, I could not say it out because I somewhere felt no one will support me on it," the actor added.
Imran narrates an incident from when he was just starting out in Bollywood. "There was a director who was auditioning for the female lead in a film. He made girls do a photoshoot in bikinis, in sexy poses. These photographs went straight to the director's personal laptops. These were not costume tests. These were not even used for marketing," he said.
"Later, he was showing these photos to the three shortlisted actresses and other women on the sets. I found it appalling. It is sexism and definitely an emotional and mental harassment. It was a wrong usage of power," he added.
Recently, a woman crew member levelled shocking allegations of sexual misconduct against Vikas Bahl. In a gut-wrenching interview with a leading daily, she said that after the pre-release bash of Bombay Velvet in 2015, he insisted on escorting her to her hotel room, and unbeknownst to her, slipped inside while she was in the washroom.
Apparently, Vikas pretended to pass out drunk on her bed and refused to leave, despite being repeatedly asked to. When he tried touching her inappropriately, she managed to push him away. This is when he dropped his pants and began to masturbate. After masturbating on her back, he told her "F**k you, b***h" and left.
Imran is not surprised by the allegations against Vikas. "Everyone is talking about Vikas Bahl. I have heard his stories from three other actresses. Ranging from inappropriate touching to straight up saying that if you were cast in the film, what will I get in return. Again, I am telling you what I know directly through the actresses or from the industry," he said.
The allegations were first made public in April 2017. "Everyone in the film industry knew. I was at a social gathering 5-6 months ago, with a lot of people and the conversation came about MeToo movement in Hollywood. At a point, I said what about Bollywood. The Vikas Bahl matter was brushed under the carpet, a few weeks after the news first appeared," Imran revealed.
"I saw him smiling, posing for pictures with every celebrity in the industry. At that point, he started making a film with Hrithik (Roshan). I was like how is it in Hollywood a culprit is shunned but here he was making a proper film. Everyone was socialising with him. So, I brought it up at the party and realised only I was only odd one there," he said.
Imran "do(es) not want to deal with negative publicity" but his conscience does not allow him to remain silent anymore. When asked why many A-listers have refrained from commenting, he said, "I know why people are not coming out. Even now, I am not naming because the names are too big and no one will trust me without evidence. I cannot imagine how it will be for all those women who have been a victim."