How Tanushree Dutta became the unlikely face of India’s #MeToo movement

A former Miss India, whose short-lived Bollywood career was pretty much over when she spoke out against Nana Patekar in September, repeating charges she had first made against him ten years ago. She has emerged the unlikely face of the #MeToo movement in India, which gained considerable momentum after her exposé. Some people might say (and many did actually) that Tanushree Dutta, 34, didn’t have a lot at stake when, four months ago, she publicly accused Patekar of harassment and intimidation. Her charges ultimately led to his ouster from a big film, and an all-round shaming of the senior actor. From blatantly questioning the veracity of her accusations to suggesting that the whole thing was engineered for the sake of attention, the actor has been repeatedly undermined and humiliated even as she has soldiered on bravely, appealing to industry bodies and filing FIRs against Patekar and those whom she insists were complicit in harassing her. Dutta has no delusions or expectations that the renewed interest in her life and story will lead to more film work. Two years ago, she decided she was done with acting. She’s not particularly interested in activism either, and won’t fashion herself as a Rose McGowan-like figure spearheading the #MeToo wave. She says she recognises the fickle nature of humans, and is not prepared to be held up as an inspiring example one moment only to be pulled down the next.

What she’s hoping for is closure, and real repercussions for her offenders. Because she knows that until the perpetrators aren’t brought to task, there’s a very good chance hers won’t be the last story of its kind.

On Dutta: Cotton dress, embroidered cotton jacket; both prices on request, Half Full Curve at Ensemble

Photograph: Prarthna Singh
Styling: Rahul Vijay
Hair: Tenzin Kyizom
Make-up: Sergio Alvarez/Faze Management
Assisted by: Akshita Singh (Styling)

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