Women

'Queen' Director Vikas Bahl Sexually Assaulted Me, Former Employee Says

The survivor, who says she was disappointed by the failure of director Anurag Kashyap, Bahl's business partner in Phantom Films, to act over her complaint, wins support from Kangna Ranaut.

New Delhi: Vikas Bahl, the director of the Hindi film Queen, became the first Bollywood celebrity to be accused of sexual assault in the course of the #MeToo movement, with a former employee of Phantom Films going public with her story on Saturday.

Her account drew instant support from Kangana Ranaut, the star of Queen, who described her own experience with Bahl’s sexually inappropriate behaviour in an interview with India Today.

According to a HuffPost India report, Bahl allegedly assaulted the woman, who worked as a crew member for Phantom Films, founded by directors Bahl, Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane and producer Madhu Mantena – during the promotional tour of the Kashyap-directed film Bombay Velvet in Goa on the night of May 4, 2015.

After the end of a party at the Park Hyatt resort in Goa, the woman said Bahl offered to accompany her to her room.

Although she told Bahl she would make it on her own, he insisted on accompanying her since she was recovering from an injury, the woman said. Upon reaching her room, she rushed to the bathroom and upon returning saw that Bahl lay on the footrest of her bed.

She asked him to get up and leave but he acted as if he couldn’t get up, she said. “He wasn’t leaving my room. I gathered some strength and put multiple pillows between the two of us to create some sort of a divider. Everything was blurry, I was on the verge of passing out but one part of my brain was very aware of this man who wouldn’t leave my bed,” she said.

According to HuffPost, Bahl then assaulted her by putting his hand inside her dress. When she resisted, she said that he masturbated onto her back, verbally assaulted her and left the room.

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She accused  Bahl of continuing to harass her at the company’s office in Mumbai and said that a complaint she made to Anurag Kashyap drew no response.

According to HuffPost India, Kashyap says he regrets his inaction over the issue. “Whatever happened was wrong. We didn’t handle it well, we failed. I cannot blame anyone but myself,” Kashyap said. “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,” HuffPost India quoted Kashyap as saying.

HuffPost India wrote that it had last week sent Bahl, Mantena and Motwane detailed questionnaires asking for their responses on the allegations. While HuffPost India wrote it is yet to hear from them, Anurag Kashyap on October 6 tweeted, alluding to the failure to respond to the woman’s complaint.

The Wire’s readers are encouraged to visit HuffPost India and read Ankur Pathak’s report titled “‘Queen’ Director Vikas Bahl Sexually Assaulted Me, Phantom Films Did Nothing: Survivor Speaks Out.”