In an interview with News18, actress Tanushree Dutta described - for the first time, in detail - her allegations of how she was sexually harassed by Nana Patekar on the set of 2008 film Horn ‘OK’ Pleassss. Dutta accused Patekar of misbehaving with her verbally and physically while filming a dance number for the film. She also made allegations against the film’s choreographer Ganesh Acharya, director Rakesh Sarang and producer Samee Siddique, of ganging up against her by witnessing everything mutely, and not interfering.
Acharya has since spoken to News18, in response to Tanushree's statement, but by and large, the news has been met with deafening silence from those most closely involved and implicated. While Tanushree ended up not being a part of the film which finally released, and there was no official response to her complaints of on-set behaviour at the time, there was a third party present on the scene who was witness to, and can confirm the veracity of, Tanushree’s claims. Janice Sequeira has provided her own account of the events from that time:
"I arrived at the venue at around 5’ o clock in the evening. I was a little late and my cameraperson had reached ahead of me. The shoot was taking place at the Famous studio, which I remember this happened 10 years ago. I was a cub reporter, maybe just about one year into journalism at that point. The filmmakers had invited my then-employer to cover all the shots and promised us an interview with Tanushree and Nana Patekar.
This was a special item song which was being shot for the film, which was supposed to show Nana Patekar and Muzammil Ibrahim on some road trip on a truck and they have stopped on the highway side and they have entered some bar and Tanushree is performing over there. This was what explained to us.
When I reached the set, my cameraperson told me that there was a lot of tension on set because the actress is angry and upset about something, and shooting had been halted. We entered the set, which had been designed to resemble a bar. But there was no activity; everything was set up but the dancers were sitting around. Tanushree was sitting, wrapped in a shawl, looking very upset. I could see that Nana Patekar, Ganesh Acharya, and the producers, were having a private conversation at a corner of the set. It looked like there was some inside joke going on. However, this could be pure conjecture.
Then, they came back and had a conversation with her (Tanushree) about the new steps. I casually asked someone from the production team about what had happened, and they replied 'heroine is not cooperating'. They went on to complain about her, saying she is wasting time. I couldn’t understand what was happening. They resumed shooting and tried to take a couple of shots.
I was sitting by the monitor and could see Tanushree having great difficulty with her expressions - it looked like she was either going to hit someone or cry. Then, the crew tried to do a couple of rehearsals before taking the main shot; when Nana Patekar entered the set, and while I don’t remember his exact movements (it seemed one of those typically vulgar steps), it was right after it that she stormed off the set. She just walked out and there was sudden chaos, no one could understand what was happening. About an hour later, we realised that she had locked herself in the vanity van, by which time some strange people arrived on set, some of them had tikka on their foreheads. I was told later that they were some members of some political party.
I did not know this at that time, but I remember speaking to one of them, a female participant, who was standing outside Tanushree’s Vanity Van.
I asked her who had called her and her companions, and she replied it was the Producer, who ''wants his money back'', implying that Tanushree had taken money and the makers wanted it returned. Apparently this is why they have called protestors to the set, which I thought was extremely strange. People started banging on her vanity van and the situation became increasingly bizarre. After a while, the police arrived but didn’t really do anything, at least to my knowledge. I don’t remember them intervening, or breaking these crowds up.
They did eventually stop those people from banging on her door and damaging any more property. By this time it was dark, and maybe around 9pm Tanushree’s parents turned up in her car, which is when these guys attacked the car. I remember her driver had to start screaming at people to move out of the way. The driver had to park the car in such a way that the door of the car was right next to vanity van door so that when Tanushree opened the vanity van door, she could get straight into the car. That’s how dangerous the situation had become by then.
Her parents looked very scared, and they were comforting her through the vanity van door. Tanushree was completely by herself, the producers and everybody from the crew seemed to have abandoned her.
And then, in the middle of all of this, when things started picking up heating, Nana Patekar exited the set, and went to his own vanity van. My cameraperson was unfortunately taking shots of the protestors but I managed to catch up with him (Patekar). He saw the boom in my hand and must have thought I was recording, though I wasn’t. Without my even asking him a question, his first reaction was 'Meri toh beti jaisi hai' (she is like my daughter). At that time I didn’t even know everything that had happened, and so I wondered why he would say something like that. Meanwhile her parents somehow managed to get Tanushree into the car. Those people had broken her car’s windshield and dented it. The police ended up escorting the vehicle out."
As told to Shrishti Negi