In October 2017, Harvey Weinstein, top Hollywood Movie Mogul, the owner of the Weinstein Company, one of the most prominent Hollywood producers, and a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences had a great fall.
Two of America’s top magazines, the New Yorker and the New York Times reported that dozens of women from the film fraternity had accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, sexual assault and even rape. Subsequently, more than 80 women in the film industry accused Harvey Weinstein of such sexual acts. At least six complaints from women are undergoing police investigations in Los Angeles, London and New York City.
The exposure of this scandal has led to many similar allegations against powerful men all over the world. This was the tipping point. It was as if the women of the world were empowered due to this incident and felt brave enough to come out in the open, share their experiences and expose these sexual predators. This also led to an on lime movement on Twitter under hashtag #METOO. The scandals impact is now known as the WEINSTEIN EFFECT.
That Harry Weinstein was a serial womanizer and used his position to forcibly seek sexual favours was an open secret in Hollywood. The acclaimed Director, Quinten Tarintino had even confronted Weinstein about it. A lot many skeletons fell out of Harvey Weinsteins cupboard. It was also learnt that he had even made some out of court settlements with a few actresses who had threatened to sue him for sexual misconduct. Each of this out of court settlement was also complemented by a non disclosure agreement signed by the victim that they would never speak about the incident.
Soon, Harvey Weinstein was dropped from the Board of his own Company and was also debarred from his membership of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. As a cascading or Weinstein effect, other powerful movie personalities like Kevin Spacey, James Tobak etc. were also accused of sexual harassment.
While everyone in Hollywood knew about this, it is only recently that this was brought to light. And this is supposed to be just the tip of the iceberg.
Back home in India, this behavior is common place. The casting couch is very much prevalent and ‘compromises’ are made on a regular basis. Only a few gutsy actresses have come out in the open. One such actress is Radhika Apte, who openly spoke about being sexually harassed by her male lead co-star when she was working in a Telugu (an Indian regional language) movie. She spoke the truth but no one stood by her. In fact, other actresses working in the Telugu film industry went to the extent of stating that Radhika Apte was lying. Made of tougher stuff, Radhika did not care and is busy working in Indian mainstream cinema, regional cinema and also in International Projects. She is one of the busiest and most talented actresses in India today and needs no favours.
We need more Radhikas to expose these sexual predators. More power to her.