Bollywood’s Full of Weinsteins & Woody Allens. We Might Never Have Actresses Like Kate Winslet Who’ll Call Them Out


Bollywood’s Full of Weinsteins & Woody Allens. We Might Never Have Actresses Like Kate Winslet Who’ll Call Them Out

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

The #MeToo movement first kicked up a storm in 2017, with some of the most high-profile names in the Hollywood industry coming under the scanner for shocking acts of sexual assault and harassment. Three years on, it continues to come up in conversation.

Last week, in an interview with Vanity Fair, actor Kate Winslet, who was one of the few mainstream celebrities who had defended the men called out for their behaviour during the movement, spoke about how she had over the years grown to regret having worked with filmmakers like Woody Allen and Roman Polanksi, accused of sexual misconduct. “It’s like, what the fuck was I doing working with Woody Allen and Roman Polanski?”

Then, on Monday, during a panel at the ongoing Toronto Film Festival, Winslet once again reiterated her regret of having worked with the acclaimed directors, and said she wished that she could go back in time and do things differently.

“I think we should all be allowed to say, ‘Look, I shouldn’t have done that,’ you know? And I think this is a huge, seismic time for all of us, where we’re aware of how many planes we take, for example, or things we have done in the past — or would go back and wish to do differently. And I just want to lead with a bit of integrity, and to just be upfront and say, ‘You know what? I probably shouldn’t have done that’,” the actor said.

Winslet’s latest statement has once again revived an important conversation on the movement, which a few years ago promised to bring a day of reckoning for all toxic men in the industry.

Back home, it’s also left many wondering how, despite Bollywood’s reputation for “casting couches” and numerous instances of sexual harassment, our homegrown film industry was largely left out of the conversation. But the fact is, as our reaction to the movement has proved in the past, Bollywood can never have its own #MeToo where the big and powerful are exposed.

While Winslet is being praised for finally speaking out, many will remember in 2018 our reaction to Tanushree Dutta’s harassment allegations against actor Nana Patekar. Despite it taking exceptional courage for a woman to speak out against such a “powerful” man in the industry, Dutta’s appeals fell largely on deaf ears. It’s also no coincidence that the actor hasn’t had a role in the industry since 2010, following which she moved to the US.

Even actor Richa Chadha who once wrote about the “casting couch” in the industry, as well as the fact that there are numerous “Harvey Weinsteins” in India who need to be named and shamed, had to backtrack later, insisting that she wasn’t talking about her personal experiences. “I don’t need security. I used the ‘I’ as an example to indicate that whistleblowers don’t have support from the ecosystem,” the actor had tweeted.

And the actor had a point. In an industry that runs on nepotism and connections with rich and influential families, it does indeed seem like Bollywood’s #MeToo movement may never see someone of Winslet’s stature speak out without fear of reprisal.