Bollywood’s ‘Queen’ Kangana Ranaut is the latest celebrity to speak out against sexual harassment and has accused her Queen director Vikas Bahl of harassing her on the sets of the film in 2014. In an interview with India Today, Kangana said that she “totally believed” the woman who accused Bahl of molestation and inappropriate behaviour on a trip to Goa.
In a recent article in Huffpost India, the woman has reiterated the allegations and shared details about the incident. According to the report, in October 2015, the woman reached out to Anurag Kashyap and detailed her experience, but no action was taken while Bahl continued to harass her until she finally quit the Phantom Films. The woman crew member accused Bahl of sexual harassment, who insisted on dropping her to her hotel room on the early hours of May 5, 2015 and pretended to pass out drunk on her bed, only to awaken soon after and masturbate on her. The woman was alone, vulnerable and recovering from an accident that had left her on crutches for months. She had only just begun to walk unassisted.
The woman was an employee of Phantom Films, which had Bahl as one of the partners alongside Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane and Madhu Mantena.
Kangana told India Today, "Totally believe her. Even though Vikas was married back in 2014 when we were filming Queen, he bragged about having casual sex with a new partner every other day. I don't judge people and their marriages but you can tell when addiction becomes sickness. He partied every night and shamed me for sleeping early and not being cool enough."
During the interview, Kangana said that there would be times when she would Bahl and he would "hold her really tight" and would "smell her hair." "But still every time we met, socially greeted and hugged each other, he'd bury his face in my neck, hold me really tight and breathe in the smell of my hair. It took me great amount of strength and effort to pull myself out of his embrace. He'd say 'I love how you smell K'. I could tell something is wrong with him," Kangana told India Today.
She told India Today: "At that time Vikas had come to me with a script about a gold medalist from Haryana. When I supported the girl, he stopped talking to me. I didn't mind losing out on a good script and I never called him either. I was determined to say what I felt was right. The matter was pushed under the carpet and I didn't hear any updates on the same."
"I could tell something is wrong with him. I believe this girl. But what is sad, is that now that Phantom has been dissolved, many are attacking him, even though the girl asked for help long ago. At that time, the story was conveniently killed, but I supported her at that time as well. You can see my media interaction during one of my brand endorsement interactions. I thought the #MeToo movement would catch up but I was wrong," Kangana told India Today.
In the Huffpost article, which has since become viral on social media, Kashyap has admitted he had failed the woman, three years after he first learnt of the allegations. "Whatever happened was wrong. We didn't handle it well, we failed. I cannot blame anyone but myself. But now we are determined to do better. We believe her completely. She has our undying support. What Bahl has done is horrifying. We are already on our path of course correction and will do everything in our capacity to fix it,” Kashyap said.
The four partners on Saturday announced the dissolution of their joint banner Phantom Films, without citing the reason for this decision.