(Editor's note: The following article originally appeared on Mahesh Bhupathi's social media handles. The tennis star has given Firstpost permission to republish his post.)
What a disturbing fortnight it's been with all these #metoo stories coming out. My initial reaction was, "it's about time", but this feeling gave way to paranoia. I suppose being a father to a 6-year-old girl has something to do with that. As women around the country continue to share their horrific stories, most people in a position of power " influencers, as they're popularly called " have chosen to stay silent on the matter.
Two days ago my wife, who's shooting out of town, got an offer from a leading international digital platform through Mukesh Chhabra's company. She forwarded it to me for my feedback. I asked if she really wanted to empower his company even after what's been in the news. Her reaction was that the digital platform hadn't really pulled back business from him either. Later, Lara got in touch with the digital platform and told them she wouldn't accept work from this company specifically.
I think she did the right thing. I'm not sure it's enough though.
While these #metoo revelations are upsetting my wife as much as they are me, maybe even more since she has seen a lot of this at close quarters and some of her friends are involved at both ends, the fact remains that the cream of the industry has refused to support this movement.
Sajid Khan is not directing Housefull 4 anymore, but is that enough?
A peak at Suhel Seth's Instagram account will reveal photos of him with every famous and powerful person in the country, yet no one has felt the need to say anything about his behaviour. People in the know tell me the reason for this is, "Everyone has skeletons in their closet". I don't buy that.
Women who have been in toxic work spaces, and yet are staying quiet, need to understand how hard it is for these stories to be shared. Similarly, the men must understand that even if you played your part by being a silent spectator to injustice, now is your chance to set things right.
I think it's important for people to understand what those accused in the #MeToo movement have been doing. They have been systematically "preying" on women " and in some cases men " who are chasing a dream... a job, a role, a promotion, a break.
Last night, a friend from the talent industry told me that everyone is waiting for a month or so for matters to die down and then it will be business as usual. That's when I decided that I may not have any influence, but I need to say something.
I am as guilty as anyone of staying silent.
I have heard stories, directly and indirectly, but I chose to ignore them as "business is business".
That ends today.
Personally or professionally, I have known and engaged with Suhel Seth, Vikas Bahl, Anirbhan Blah, Chetan Bhagat, Sajid Khan and Anu Malik. But that stops today.
To all those who are in positions of influence through their massive social platforms, I have a simple appeal: Stop engaging. Alienate these "serial predators". Show them that while the law and investigative agencies will take their course, society should " and will " reject them. The stance needs to be crystal clear " guilty unless proven innocent.