Open Letter To Anushka Sharma: Why Did You Choose Tarun Tejpal?

Anushka,

Lets talk woman to woman. We keep fighting with men trying to prove a point; sometimes we forget to check ourselves. And that’s understandable, truly. We have a lot of anger for a lot of inhumane things women have historically and systematically gone through, in an aim to get high up on the ladder of finding equality – and we forget to get critical about our own actions.

We forget to stop for a minute and re-think the things we do. I suppose Anushka – yes, I say your name like you’re my friend, but that is how the country looks up to you. Anyway, maybe you forgot too. It’s just that I am finding it a little hard to cut you slack because you are literally working with an alleged sexual predator.

You have apparently decided to work on a web series based on a book written by Tarun Tejpal. Yep, the ex editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine who was accused of sexual harassment in a very detailed account. He allegedly sexually assaulted a young woman working under him in an elevator, refusing to listen to her pleas. He reportedly did it twice. Tejpal allegedly harassed her further when she spoke out and then completely denied the incident. This included a series of emails, victim blaming – finally reaching a point where he was sent to jail and is now currently on bail. She not only faced harassment but her story was played on in the media, dragged for years, still continues.

While none of us can play jury, it is safe to say that sometimes – and especially in the current day and age of alarming #MeToo incidents coming out – we need to believe women. Give them a chance at least. And this woman came out with her story years ago – with limited social media back up and lots of things to lose, including her career.

So Anushka, I think I speak on behalf of a lot of women like me when I say this, and mind you I am not here to rage and rave, but simply to question:

"What happened? "

It is not just the fact that you’ve let down a number of women who are fighting a very difficult fight, it is just the sheer blatancy of it that rattles me. This isn’t something you could have missed. And while we know you to be a woman of certain values (only because you’ve gone all out and put them on a T-Shirt) this just didn’t fit the bill.

I mean, you did say women should be heard, and supported Tanushree, you also evidently didn’t agree with Rani’s yellow-shaded privileged talk – then how did you think it was okay to put your efforts into building a show based on the works of an alleged sexual predator who pushed his boundaries not once, but twice?

Here’s the thing: no matter how brilliant a writer he might be, by promoting his work you also give his acts a chance to be forgotten. While you may not see it as encouragement or support, that is what it unfortunately becomes. And for sure, if you so vehemently believe in his innocence, you could have at least waited till he was cleared of charges?

I know what you’ll say. We have to separate the art from the artist. Should we? Then surely, Alok Nath playing judge in a #MeToo film should have also been very acceptable to all of us? Yes, that happened too – can you believe the mockery and humiliation survivors have to go through?

Here’s the thing. We cannot be bystanders when it comes to making a point, especially not when it comes to things that affect thousands of people. Especially not when you hold a certain place in the industry that allows you to be heard, a privilege many young girls don’t have.

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While you’ve been vocal about woman empowerment and have always voiced your opinion when you saw wrong, I think it is fair to ask you why you chose this and how you consider it okay.

This is not an attack, but if we stopped questioning those we look up to, we’d find it hard to look at right and wrong and everything that goes in between with a clear eye. The world needs more accountability, now more than ever.

Regards,

Hiba

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