In case you didn’t know – and there is every chance you don’t – Mika Singh was arrested and hauled off to jail for sexually harassing a minor in Dubai. Mika is a usual suspect, he has been involved in two other similar incidents. What’s interesting is that the Indian Consulate in Dubai interfered and has made some sort of respite for him. Meanwhile, a popular radio station is blaring the song that he belted, ‘Aankh Maare’, from the Ranveer Singh, Sara Ali Khan starrer, “Simmba”.
This is quite different from the time that another actor was hit with allegations of sexual harassment – Nana Patekar. Everyone knows that incident by now and everyone knows the aftermath. He had to cancel a press conference, his role in the Housefull 4 film was chopped off. His legacy was questioned, so on and so forth.
For Mika, who is a respondent to a prompt case that will become a global spectacle, the song is still blaring on the airwaves, with nobody asking Rohit Shetty or Ranveer Singh or Sara Ali Khan questions about how can the song still be played. For the record, Ranveer and Sara have no say in this, but let me elaborate.
After the #Nanaspectacle happened, every press conference that I attended had one #MeToo question. Kay Kay Menon was asked this question during the press conference for an ALTBalaji web series. Kalki Koechlin and Gulshan Deviah were asked during the press conference of their web series, Smoke – in the spotlight, under the glaring bulb. It’s been nearly 48 hours that news of Mika Singh being arrested surfaced – and no celeb has gone in a frenzy, radio stations aren’t saying we are not going to play that particular song. Mind, please, Mika Singh was arrested – that means there was proof of a crime committed. Nana’s legacy was questioned because of an alleged incident that happened a decade ago.
Come to think of it, this makes such great headlines. Rohit Shetty is known for his male-dominated films. His screenplays reek of machismo and being gung-ho. He is best friends with some of the hottest guys out there – a boy’s club, if you may. So, why hasn’t any enterprising journalist put 4 and 4 together and made 4 crore? Is it because Rohit is affable and ‘doesn’t seem’ like he’ll condone such behavior? What about Nana Patekar’s charm? Or is it because nobody wants to lose a slice of the Simmba behemoth, that has a blockbuster written all over the trailer itself?
It would be awkward, for celebrities and media personnel to rile up about Mika and then wish Ranveer and Rohit a ‘hearty success for Simmba’. And who wouldn’t want to pose with Ranveer or Rohit while they are off promoting Simmba?
Housefull is very different from Simmba. Housefull is a mad-cap comedy franchise that was on its last legs anyway. Unless Nadiadwala did a publicity blitz, the film would come and go at the theaters and nobody would have bothered. Everyone went hammer and tongs at Nana, knowing that they don’t have anything to lose.
With Simmba, the case is different because every media house wants a post-wedding interview with Ranveer. Everyone wants to know from Sara Ali Khan who’s hotter, Ranveer or Sushant Singh Rajput. Not who’s the better actor, but who’s hotter.
This is what we mean when we say that the #MeToo movement of the West is different from that in India. Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein, both have had their careers decimated. Both have had personal as well as professional losses. Their name is mud. But in India, a respectable actor’s name will forever be attached to the #MeToo movement, but someone who had the audacity to kiss Rakhi Sawant on stage, non consensually, will continue to belt out chart busters.