With the current #MeToo movement picking up pace in India, Mahesh Bhatt has given his voice in support to the many women who have come forward in recent weeks.
Reported on The New Indian Express, the filmmaker said in an interview with IANS, “The #MeToo movement cannot be resolved through the court of public opinion. There are people standing up for something. I would say more power to women who scream from the rooftop about something wrong done to them – whether it is after 10 years or 20 or 50… It doesn’t make a difference,” explained the ‘Jalebi’ producer who was in Delhi to promote the film.
Bhatt continued to add, “You cannot deny the right to individuals to say what they say. But the question is whether the quotes are in sync with the legal system, which is based on a certain understanding. Are they in sync with this so-called enlightened new view that we have? If punitive action is not taken, the cynicism that nothing happens would be reinforced.”
Bhatt goes on to explain how the #MeToo movement should not be abused. “There is only one thing you can’t use this #MeToo movement for (and that is) settling old relationship issues. You cannot categorise that. There is domestic violence which is there between married people or lovers. There can be sexual misconduct which can be tackled legally. But we are talking about sexual harassment which is another case. Women need to handle that very responsibly.”
Bhatt blames the hypocrisy that is prevalent in India, on one hand a goddess is worshipped and on the other women are being abused and mistreated. The filmmaker says the dichotomy in India is creating a mess of things.
“During Durga Puja, you bow down to the deity which was created by this great story of male gods putting their best to create her so that she can kill the demon to save the world and heaven from the wrath of that demon. It is time to understand that you support the woman and let her retain her dignity or she will perish.”…”The question is, ‘Do you really view women in the form of the goddess you worship in the temple’. Because in private life you violate them.”
“The dichotomy is what has made a mess of things. We have an idea about ourselves and the reality is quite different from the idea. Look at what you are doing to women. There are issues which cannot be resolved themselves within a time frame of a week, a month or a year. These are larger issues. The soul of the country is decaying. We are far away from what we claim to be. And cases like this only put spotlight on that,” says the ‘Hamari Adhuri Kahani’ (2015) producer.
The Aashiqui 2′ (2013) producer was asked about the measures he puts in place to make it a safer workplace for women, to which he replied, “Human beings are vulnerable to all this and more. But I can only say that you lead by example. You set the tone about what the morality of the house is going to be. I have enough women force. I have my own daughter (Pooja), who is a tough chick. I have my sister who is hands-on. I have my niece. If there is any outrage anywhere, I think there are enough pockets to bring out what is happening.”