"I understand and respect Aamir Khan’s and Kiran Rao’s decision."
In light of the #BollywoodMeToo and #MeToo movement that has become so widespread in India, Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan has announced his exit from the Gulshan Kumar biopic Mogul.
Aamir’s decision is primarily because the director of the film Subhash Kapoor has been accused of alleged molestation.
Khan was supposed to produce the film with T-Series, as well as reportedly portray the character of late Gulshan Kumar in his biopic.
Subhash who has directed films such as Jolly LLB (2013) and Jolly LLB 2 (2017) had been accused of alleged sexual abuse towards Indian Television actress Geetika Tyagi dating back to 2012.
Consequently, Kapoor will no longer be directing the Gulshan Kumar biopic.
Aamir and his wife Kiran Rao have released a statement about walking away from the film.
Posting on Twitter, an excerpt from the joint statement read:
“Two weeks ago, when traumatic #MeToo stories began emerging, it was brought to our attention that someone we were about to begin work with has been accused of sexual misconduct.
“Upon enquiry, we found out that this particular case is subjudice, and that the legal process is in motion.”
The creative husband-wife pair continued on:
“Without casting any aspersions on anyone involved in this case, and without coming to any conclusions about these specific allegations, we have decided to step away from this film.”
The filmmaking duo also expressed the need for change in the film industry.
“We believe that this is an opportunity for the film industry to introspect and take concrete steps towards change. For far too long women have faced the brunt of sexual exploitation. It has to stop.”
— Aamir Khan (@aamir_khan) October 10, 2018
When questioned about Khan’s decision to walk away from the film, Bhushan Kumar who runs T-Series told PTI:
“He (Aamir) doesn’t want to work with Subhash Kapoor because of his unfinished case.”
In reply to a question about if Subhash will still be involved with the film, Bhushan added:
“No.. We won’t. We are not making (the film) with him.”
Meanwhile, responding to the statement issued by Aamir and Kiran, Subhash Kapoor stated in his tweet:
“I understand and respect Aamir Khan’s and Kiran Rao’s decision. Since the matter is subjudice, I intend to prove my innocence in the court of law.”
My statement pic.twitter.com/EAlcaZpElY
— Subhash Kapoor (@subkapoor) October 10, 2018
Geetika, who had accused Subhash of sexual misconduct, also used Twitter to express her satisfaction in response to Aamir and Kiran’s statement.
She commented: “This is COMMENDABLE and this is the kind of support we want so that more and more women can come out. Thank you @aamir_khan – thank you #KiranRao #TimesUp #MeTooMovement.”
The allegations against Kapoor go back to 2012. But Tyagi who is known for playing ‘Bimla Agarwal’ on ZEE’s Aap Ke Aa Jane Se (2018-Present), did not file an official complaint until 2014.
At the time Geeta had allegedly claimed that Kapoor under the influence of alcohol came to her residence with a common friend and scriptwriter Danish Raza and inappropriately touched her.
As a result, Subhash was arrested and produced before the Andheri Magistrate Court. But he was later released on bail.
Kapoor had dismissed the allegations saying, “This is not True.”
This particular accusation against Subhash Kapoor is one of many sexual harassment allegations that have come to light again. Over the last few months, many women from the Indian film industry have come forward to share their stories.
The most famous case is of actress and model Tanushree Dutta, accusing veteran actor Nana Patekar of sexual misconduct and harassment.
Tanushree first accused Nana a decade ago of allegedly harassing her whilst shooting an item song for the movie Horn ‘Ok’ Pleassss (2009).
After Dutta refused to film with the actor, he allegedly sent goons to ‘bash up’ her car when she and her family were inside.
At the time, her allegations were dismissed by Patekar himself. However, 10 years later, Tanushree once again accused the actor upon returning to India from America.
With Dutta being vocal about the allegations against Patekar, the hashtag #MeToo movement has intensified in India.
Other allegations have been made against Queen (2014) director Vikas Bahl, actors Alok Nath, Rajat Kapoor and many more men in the industry.
It has become a huge talking point within India, sparking nationwide protests.
With this movement showing no signs of slowing down, it will be interesting to see how many more women come forward with allegations against individuals from the film fraternity.
Ultimately one is hoping that this movement will have a positive impact in tackling these important issues affecting women not only in India but around the world.
As for Aamir Khan, he has made a sensible decision under the circumstances. While Subhash Kapoor is innocent until proven guilty, Aamir Khan has taken a safer option by stepping away from this film.