Bollywood director denies #MeToo claims, threatens filmmakers

Bollywood director Vikas Bahl (right) denied sexual allegations against him, and threatened fellow filmmakers for defamation. (File/AFP)
Updated 10 October 2018
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Bollywood director denies #MeToo claims, threatens filmmakers

  • An unnamed woman said director Bahl had insisted on escorting her to her room and pretended to pass out drunk on her bed
  • Bahl denied the allegations in a public statement issued Wednesday

MUMBAI: A prominent Bollywood director accused of sexual harassment denied the allegations Wednesday as he threatened to sue two fellow filmmakers for defamation over the case which has helped fuel India’s #MeToo movement.
Vikas Bahl is accused of assaulting an employee of Phantom Films — an edgy production house behind Netflix’s first original Indian series, “Sacred Games” — in a hotel in 2015.
In accusations published on HuffPost India Saturday, the unnamed woman said Bahl had insisted on escorting her to her room and pretended to pass out drunk on her bed.
Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane, who along with Bahl and another filmmaker founded Phantom Films, released statements on Twitter later that day backing the woman.
The report came after they had announced they were dissolving the production company on Friday.
Bahl, director of “Queen,” a 2014 hit movie about female empowerment, issued a denial through his lawyer on Wednesday in his first public statement responding to the allegation.
A legal notice released to the media and seen by AFP said Bahl “denies all allegations.”
“Vikas Bahl issues defamation notice to Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane threatening civil and criminal action,” it added.
The notice accused Kashyap and Motwane of “professional rivalry and jealously” and of trying to jeopardize the release of Bahl’s upcoming film “Super 30.”
It called for them to withdraw the claims and issue an apology or face being sued.
The year-old #MeToo movement has finally gathered steam in India in recent days with Bollywood figures, a government minister, several comedians and top journalists among those accused of abusing their positions to behave improperly toward women.
The spark was Hindi film actress Tanushree Dutta, who in a recent interview accused well-known Bollywood actor Nana Patekar of inappropriate behavior on a film set 10 years ago. He denies the allegations.
A Mumbai comedian, Utsav Chakraborty, last week found himself at the center of a Twitter storm accusing him of sending lewd messages and requests for topless photos to women and young girls. He later apologized.
The HuffPost article on Bahl appeared before a host of women journalists accused M. J Akbar, a well-known former editor and now a junior foreign minister in Narendra Modi’s government of sexual harassment.
Akbar is yet to comment publicly on the allegations and the government is yet to issue a response.
On Monday, writer and producer Vinta Nanda accused veteran film actor Alok Nath of raping her 19 years ago.
“Neither I am denying this nor do I would agree with it. It (rape) must have happened, but someone else would have done it,” Nath told an Indian news channel.


Stubbed out: Japan university stops hiring smoking professors

Updated 23 April 2019
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Stubbed out: Japan university stops hiring smoking professors

  • Nagasaki University the first state-run university to introduce such a condition of employment
  • Japan is steppiing up an anti-smoking campaign ahead of the 2020 Olympics

TOKYO: A Japanese university has stopped hiring professors and teachers who light up, officials said Tuesday, as the nation steps up an anti-smoking campaign ahead of the 2020 Olympics.
Nagasaki University spokesman Yusuke Takakura said they have “stopped hiring any teaching staff who smoke,” although applicants who promise to kick the habit before taking up their post could still be offered employment.
The university will also ban smoking entirely on campus from August, opening a clinic for those who cannot give up, said Takakura.
“We have reached a conclusion that smokers are not fit for the education sector,” the spokesman said, adding that the university had sought legal advice and does not believe the policy contravenes discrimination laws.
Local media said it was the first state-run university to introduce such a condition of employment and the move comes after Tokyo’s city government passed strict new anti-smoking rules last year ahead of the 2020 Summer Games.
Japan has long been an outlier in the developed world, considered a smoker’s paradise where lighting up is allowed in many restaurants and bars.
Tokyo’s new laws ban lighting up at restaurants in the capital, regardless of size. Restaurants can set up separate indoor smoking areas, but customers cannot eat or drink there.
Smoking is also banned entirely on school premises from kindergartens to high schools, although space can be set aside outside university and hospital buildings.
The World Health Organization has given Japan its lowest rating for efforts to prevent passive smoking, and it even scores poorly in the region compared with countries like China and South Korea.
Despite that, tobacco use in Japan has been falling in line with a broader global trend.