Bollywood actor Imran Khan has said that he knew about disgraced film director Vikas Bahl’s alleged sexual misconduct against female actors and feels guilty about not speaking up about it sooner. In an interview to The Indian Express, Imran detailed how Vikas’ misdeedswere discussed in Bollywood circles but brushed under the carpet.
“I have heard his stories from three other actresses. Ranging from inappropriate touching to straight up saying that if you were cast in the film, what will I get in return,” he said.
Imran said that he wanted to speak out earlier but was asked to keep quiet.
“I was advised to stay quiet because they said people will assume I am trying to grab publicity. They (people) will say I am trying to become relevant and come in the news since my films have not worked well. Time and again, people around me will tell me to not speak up,” Imran said.
Imran said that Bollywood learnt about the allegations against Vikas in 2017. At a party almost six months ago, everyone was discussing the #MeToo movement in Hollywood and when Imran tried to talk about a similar movement in Bollywood, he was ignored. “I saw him smiling (Vikas Bahl), posing for pictures with every celebrity in the industry. At that point, he started making a film with Hrithik (Roshan). I was like how is it in Hollywood a culprit is shunned but here he was making a proper film. Everyone was socialising with him. So, I brought it up at the party and realised only I was only odd one there,” he said.
Imran added that he supports the women who have finally found the courage to speak against their abusers. “I cannot be silent about it anymore. My conscience will not allow me to...I do not want them to feel that men in the industry are not standing by them. I have chosen my words and said what I intended to say. I have been silent for long enough and it makes me feel dirty,” he said.
Vikas has been accused of sexually molesting an ex-employee of his production house, Phantom Films, in 2015. Director Anurag Kashyap said in a statement on his Twitter account that he regretted not acting on allegations of sexual misconduct made against his partner.
In 2017, Bahl denied the allegations.