Motwane apologises for inaction in harassment case

Filmmaker Vikramaditya Motwane on Sunday broke his silence over the controversy involving his Phantom Films partner Vikas Bahl, who has been accused of sexual harassment.

In a recent article in HuffPost India, a former woman employee of the now dissolved production banner has reiterated the allegations and shared further details about the incident in May 2015.

According to the report, the woman said she had reached out to filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, one of the partners of the production house, and detailed her experience, but no action was taken while Bahl continued to harass her until she finally quit the company. In a statement on Twitter, Motwane, who formed the company along with Kashyap, Bahl and Madhu Mantena, apologised for the incident and said he will ensure a safer working environment on the sets of his films.

“I’m truly sorry about what happened to the girl. Vikas Bahl is a sexual offender. He’s preyed on a young woman, abused her trust, ruined her life. The scars are going to stay and that just isn’t right. The only thing I can offer now is an apology. And the only thing I can say is that this will never happen again on my watch,” he wrote in the statement. Motwane, whose films “Lootera,” “Trapped” and “Bhavesh Joshi” have all been made under the banner, said he was unaware about the incident until March 2017. “I didn’t hear about the incident between Vikas and the girl when it happened in 2015. The first time I heard of it was in March 2017, when Anurag called me and told me about it. Madhu, me and Anurag sat with the girl and she told us the whole story, in the same detail as in the article. It was hard to hear and it horrified us,” Motwane said.

His statement comes after Kashyap said his legal aides told him there was nothing he could do to fire Bahl from Phantom Films, which they set up seven years ago. Motwane said the company ensured that Bahl does not produce or direct a film while they contemplated strict action against him. “We immediately began to take action. We offered suspending Vikas from the company for a long period of time, not letting him produce or direct, taking away his signatory rights as well as sending him in rehabilitation. She agreed. So did Vikas, who had to no memory of the incident. We also worked towards formalising this and even taking steps towards documenting these terms,” he said.