Phantom Films is no longer in business anymore. The production house that gave us films like Lootera, Bombay Velvet, Shaandaar and Manmarziyaan has now shut shop over the renewed allegations of sexual harassment against one of its founding members, Vikas Bahl. Bahl, known for making Queen, Shaandaar and the upcoming Super 30, has been accused by a former employee of Phantom Films of sexually assaulting her. The allegations weren't new; it came out in 2017 poster by Mumbai Mirror after which a Huffington Post article followed up on the story. Now with the rising #MeToo movement on social media, where women (and even men) are calling out on sexual predators in various fields publicly, this case has been revisited again through the Huffington Post article. Phantom Films Dissolved: Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane And Others Call It Quits After 7 Years – Read Tweets.
The reason? Vikas Bahl was still a part of Phantom Films. Now that the production company is no more, his former friends and partners, directors Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane, have gone on record stating that they no longer want to associate themselves with a sexual offender like Vikas Bahl. Sonam K Ahuja Reacts to the Vikas Bahl Controversy; Says She Believes the Victim.
Anurag had written this on his social media post, "Whatever happened was wrong. We didn't handle it well, we failed. I cannot blame anyone but myself. But now we are determined to do better. We believe her completely. She has our undying support. What Bahl has done is horrifying. We are already on our path of course correction and will do everything in our capacity to fix it."
My statement in light of the recent HuffPost article and breaking up of Phantom . There are two pages.. pic.twitter.com/WCAsaj6uFR
— Anurag Kashyap (@anuragkashyap72) October 7, 2018
Supporting Anurag on his statement, Vikramaditya Motwane wrote, "Vikas Bahl is a sexual offender. He preyed on a young woman, abused her trust and ruined her life. The scars are going to stay and that just isn't right."
All well and good, right? Well, not so much! Because it took you three fricking years and a lot of #MeToo noise to claim that your associate was a pervert!
Both Anurag and Vikramaditya knew about this incident since 2015, as per the report in Huffington Post. If they say they believe the victim from thereon and were helpless because she didn't take legal action against Bahl, then why did they allow Bahl to make Shaandaar that came out in 2016, and now Super 30, a film they are associated with, after that?
In 2017, when rumours were going on strong that Phantom Films were heading for a split after the sexual allegations came out in the public, this is what Motwane told IANS, "We're still together... That's what's happening. You're hearing it from the horse's mouth. The horse is telling you from the mouth that we are still together..." Hum Saath Saath Hai, right?
Anurag, in his latest statement, said that Bahl being a founder of their production company, he was not aware of the legalities involved to oust him from the company. A Twitter user pointed out that Bahl's name is not present in the Directors of Phantom Films.
I see nowhere name of Vikas Bhal in Directors of company but your and Anurag's
Which gives me another idea whether u were really not in a position to sack Vikas as you act now pic.twitter.com/R9pTwd9auH
— Heramb (@i_heramb) October 8, 2018
Even if we take Anurag's defence over face value, then why did he went on to appear with Vikas on various channels and events, despite knowing his nature? This old tweet by comedian Suresh Menon in 2016 harks to the time when Anurag, Vikas and Madhu Mantena came on The Kapil Sharma Show.
— Suresh Menon (@sureshnmenon) June 25, 2016
The Huffington Post report clearly states that the victim had told Anurag on October 2015. So many things happened after that which are in complete denial of Anurag and Motwane's current stand that they are not supporting Vikas from the start. The biggest one being, if they couldn't take out Bahl from the company, why were they in the group for three years when they knew about the incident? Also, why wait for the allegations to come out in the open to voice your dissent and end the company?
There are other reports that suggest that sexual harassment allegations against Bahl are not the only reason to dissolve Phantom Films. The production company has been in losses over the debacles of few of their recent film, including this year's Manmarziyaan. The cracks had already developed in the team after the huge failures of Bombay Velvet, Shaandaar and Bhavesh Joshi. The production company was going to go down any time soon, and Firspost claims that they have only used Vikas Bahl as an excuse to do so.
While we are glad that Vikas and Motwane had the guts to call out their former friend as a sexual offender, it is definitely the case of being too long too late too little.
Quoting Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone, "It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends." You didn't, Kashyap and Motwane, at least not convincingly.
(The opinions expressed in the above article are of the author and do not reflect the stand or position of LatestLY.)