Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap admitted that he knew about the sexual harassment allegations against director Vikas Bahl and feels sorry for not taking a right decision.
Last year, a woman employee at Phantom Films, which had Bahl as one of the partners along side Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane and Madhu Mantena, had accused Bahl of harassing her during a trip to Goa. Phantom Films has now been dissolved after a seven-year run.
“While at Phantom, I did everything I could, within what I was told by my partner and his lawyers. For legal and financial decisions, I was fully dependent on my partner and his team. They took care of those things so I could focus on what I did better, creatives. His word and his team’s word on any matter used to be the final word for us,” Kashyap said in a lengthy statement which he posted on Twitter on Sunday.
“According to legal advice provided to me then, I was told that we had very limited options. Now in hindsight and after taking stock of things myself, I can quite see how I was ill-advised,” he added.
Kashyap explained how he tackled the situation by naming and shaming Bahl in public. The company barred Bahl from the office premises and took away his signing authority.
He also said that the studio’s contract did not allow him to go against his partner Bahl.
His lawyers told him that Bahl’s removal from the company was hindered by two things — his status as “an equal promoter/director who actually ran the company” and that there was no clause in their contract to fire him “on the grounds of misconduct”.
Kashyap mentioned that he took a stand for the victim earlier also but it was the woman who refused to take any legal action.
“What makes it worse personally for me is that the victim did not share the incident with me for a long time because she saw me dealing with my depression. She put herself through a personal hell to protect me and I could not because I was unfortunately ill-advised that there was little I could do.
“I fully understand that it is no excuse whatsoever and all of my actions above, I would hope, are demonstrative of every intention on my part to set this right.
“This industry is extremely ill-equipped to handle matters such as sexual harassment, copyright, censorship and all the things we put ourselves in dock with. A large part of the reason for this is that there is clearly lack of correct advice and awareness of legal remedies,” he added.
While concluding, Kashyap apologized to the victim.
“I am deeply, truly sorry to the woman in question and she has known this all while. This will never happen again on my work premises ever again.”