#MeToo: Vikas Bahl gets clean chit in sexual assault case
Filmmaker Vikas Bahl has been cleared of all charges after an investigation into the sexual assault allegations leveled by a former employee of Phantom Films, a production house co-founded by Bahl. Phantom Films was dissolved in the wake of the allegations. Bahl would also reportedly receive direction credits for the upcoming release Super 30, starring Hrithik Roshan. Here are all the details.
The internal inquiry was conducted by Reliance Entertainment, which held a 50% stake in the company. Speaking to Mumbai Mirror, Reliance Entertainment's group chief executive officer, Shibasish Sarkar, said, "Yes, it's true that the internal complaints committee report has exonerated Vikas Bahl." Sarkar added, "With the committee clearing Vikas, we don't have a choice but to reinstate his credit as director of Super 30."
Speaking to the Mirror, an unidentified official stated, "Despite repeated reminders, the complainant did not appear before the committee." The sourced added, "Those associated with the complainant and the respondent were interviewed by the committee. It also recorded documentation and correspondence between the two and based on this, it has unanimously concluded that Vikas Bahl stands exonerated of all charges leveled against him."
"Vikas does not need to come out with an official statement because the biggest statement would be him being credited for Super 30," Bahl's lawyer Hitesh Jain told The Indian Express. "He will be allowed in every aspect of the film now."
For the uninitiated, a report published by the Huffington Post in October 2018 detailed the allegations from the former Phantom Films employee. Bahl allegedly assaulted the woman during the pre-release promotional tour of their movie, Bombay Velvet, in Goa. She claimed that Bahl offered to drop her to her hotel room, passed out on her bed, only to later awaken and masturbate on her.
Separately, Kangana Ranaut, the lead actor in Bahl's 2014 superhit Queen, supported the allegations, adding that every time Bahl would greet her with a hug, he would "bury his face in my neck, hold me tight and breathe in the smell of my hair." Her co-star Nayani Dixit had also accused Bahl of sexual harassment, adding that he had also harassed another crew member.
Bahl (47) was removed from the Hrithik Roshan-starrer Super 30 following the allegations, Ranaut's remarks, and the comments from his former partners Motwane and Kashyap- whom the accuser had approached with her allegations against Bahl. However, no action was taken by them.. Later in October, Bahl filed a Rs. 10 crore defamation suit against Kashyap and Motwane for their comments on his alleged sexual misconduct.
Hrithik Roshan, the lead in Super 30 (a biopic on educationalist Anand Kumar), had addressed the allegations, saying, "It is impossible for me to work with any person if he/she is guilty of such grave misconduct," adding "all proven offenders must be punished."
Separately, reports emerged that music director Anu Malik would return as a judge on Indian Idol's season 11. Several women have accused Malik of sexual harassment. Rape-accused Alok Nath was also recently seen in the May release De De Pyaar De, starring Ajay Devgn, Rakul Singh, and Tabu. Last year, filmmaker Subhash Ghai, who allegedly harassed model Kate Sharma, was cleared of all charges.