Men Understand Consent When a Gay Guy Touches Them: Mallika Dua on #MeToo
In a no-holds-barred conversation, Mallika Dua talks about her celeb chat show and web series, how she is coping with finding her friends in the wrong and her idea of consent.
With the #MeToo movement opening a Pandora’s Box, India, especially the entertainment industry, stands polarised. But for actor-comedian Mallika Dua, it isn’t all that complicated really.
In a no-holds-barred conversation at the India Film Project, which was recently held at Mumbai’s Nehru Centre, the 29-year-old talked about her ongoing chat show and web series, how she is coping with finding her friends in the wrong and her idea of consent.
In the last few weeks, several comedians you have worked closely with have been accused of sexual misconduct. How difficult has it been to process such allegations about people you know so well and take a stand?
Not taking a stand is out of the question. You can’t discredit a survivor’s story and you can’t turn a blind eye to what is happening in front of you. What’s difficult is coming to terms that your friends, your colleagues or people you look up to could be involved in something like this.
That’s what the challenge is and it was just horrible because these are your people. You are on WhatsApp with them but you read about them on Twitter.
I am not friends with Utsav but Tanmay, for not taking action about this, having the information and not doing anything about it. These things are very hurtful because you think you know people. Ultimately you understand that is it man versus woman? We thought it’s not.
A lot of those who have been accused have said what they did was in a personal capacity and had nothing to do with their professional space. Do you think personal is different from professional?
I don’t, because if you are a predator in your personal life, you are a threat to everybody in your professional life as well. The fact is that you are not fit to be in your position. You have lost your credibility. And you ought to suffer for that.
Especially with artists, at our convenience we use our personal life as our inspiration for our professional life. So we can’t wipe our hands off.
What is your idea of consent? How much of a no is no?
A no is a no. It doesn’t have to be a N-O always. Disagreement manifests itself in various kinds of ways. Even a feeble no is a no. I read a quote that straight guys understand consent very well when a gay guy tries to touch them. They get it, right? Everybody understands it. It’s more of a power game, whether it’s in a professional capacity or in your bedroom in your marriage. Guys understand consent. I refuse to believe that they don’t.
Despite countless celeb talk shows, your Midnight Misadventures with Mallika Dua is surprisingly different. What went into creating it?
I didn’t want it to be in an interview format. I wanted to be as interesting as my guests if not more and I wanted people to see celebrities loosen up a bit. It’s basically fiction meets non-fiction.
You have done comedy sketches, YouTube videos, fictional web series (The Trip) and celeb chat shows. How different is it acting across formats?
Sketches are a little non-serious. You can experiment way more in them. But if you are a doing a fiction show like The Trip, you can add comedy but you can’t just do whatever you want because you have to stay consistent to your character.
So you’re an actor first and comedian later?
I’d like to believe so. I feel that my being an actor helps my comedy. I get really nervous around people, more so when I have to talk to celebrities. People don’t believe it but I am really reserved.
(This interview was conducted before Mallika’s father Vinod Dua was accused of sexual harassment by a filmmaker.)
Follow @sneha_bengani for more.
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