In light of the recent Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey sexual assualt cases, Bollywood has so far remained tight-lipped about the entire issue but Veere Di Wedding actor Swara Bhaskar has chosen to speak up about how she was harassed by a drunk filmmaker on a film’s set.
In light of the recent unraveling of Hollywood’s ‘open secret,’ the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault case, a number of female actors have come up to speak up against the power players in the industry. This was followed by House of Cards actor Kevin Spacey being accused of raping a 14-year-old minor. And while here on our side, Bollywood has so far remained tight-lipped about the entire issue, Veere Di Wedding actor Swara Bhaskar has chosen to speak up about how she was harassed by a drunk filmmaker on a film’s set and how it is so important to break the silence.
On being asked if Swara had ever personally come across a sexual harassment case in Bollywood, Swara told Mumbai Mirror, “Of course. I’ve been propositioned by men who were in a position to cast me. I lost a few roles because I didn’t give in. It made me vulnerable, nervous. Some people even stopped responding to my messages because they knew I would not give in. Being an articulate, educated girl they sensed that I would not take things lying down.”
Sharing how Swara herself was once a victim of sexual harassment at the hands of a film’s director, she narrated, “There have been catcalls during shoots and eve-teasing on one of my sets. I’ve been groped by a mob during promotions and during a 56-day outdoor at a remote location, when I was still fairly new, the director harassed me with texts and dinner invites. He stalked me during the day and called me through the night.
I was asked to go to his hotel room on the pretext of discussing the scene and would find him drinking. During the first week itself, he started talking about love and sex and one night, arrived in my room, drunk, and asked to be hugged. It was scary! I was young and alone. I would switch off the lights after pack-up and remove my make up in the dark so he would think I was asleep and stop calling me.”
But how did Swara deal with it? Swara says that after she told the director that he was scaring her and making her uncomfortable and that she wouldn’t be able to act if this continued, the harassment did stop, but only for a few weeks. She says, “He acted hurt and said I had misunderstood him. He stayed away for two weeks, then he was back to his tricks. I finally confided in the executive producer and made sure that I was escorted everywhere.”
Giving her mantra on how to deal with harassment, Swara’s parting words are, “Lose the part but don’t get on the couch.”