Shazia Iqbal’s 'Bebaak,' which has been produced by Kashyap and Jar Films, has been dropped from this month’s Mumbai Film Festival
The controversy hanging over filmmaker Anurag Kashyap for his alleged inaction in a sexual assault complaint against his former business partner Vikas Bahl has singed a short film he produced in an independent capacity. Shazia Iqbal’s “Bebaak,” which has been produced by Kashyap and Jar Films, has been dropped from this month’s Mumbai Film Festival.
“Bebaak” stars Sarah Hashmi, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vipin Sharma and explores the misogyny faced by a Muslim woman during an interview for a scholarship. The 20-minute film was initially accepted in the Spotlight section at the festival, which will run from October 25 to November 1. But on October 15, Iqbal learnt that “Bebaak” had been dropped. She claimed in an open letter that while the festival didn’t give her an official explanation, she was privately told that Kashyap’s involvement with her film was the reason.
“Chopping off films and treating filmmakers like disposable trash is not starting a conversation,” Iqbal told Scroll.in. “You are shutting down the conversation. Film festivals are our only hope, because where else will we screen it? Especially a festival as prestigious as MAMI.”
In the light of the MeToo movement, the festival had previously removed Rajat Kapoor’s “Kadakh” and the All India Bakchod production “Chintu Ka Birthday” from its line-up. Kapoor has been accused of sexual harassment, as have been AIB member Gursimran Khamba and collaborator Utsav Chakraborty.
Iqbal said that she was initially advised by the festival organisers to drop Kashyap’s name from the credits of Bebaak. “It was heartbreaking for me because Anurag was excited about the film from day one,” she said. “Anurag told me that films are bigger than people and that it was alright. So we took around five days to make the changes in the posters and trailers and take off his name from everywhere.”
Iqbal claimed that despite making the changes, a festival committee member, who she didn’t identify, told her on October 15 that the film was being dropped.
Kashyap has been in the eye of the MeToo storm for allegedly ignoring a sexual assault allegation against Vikas Bahl. The complainant was a former employee of Phantom Films, the production company set up Kashyap, Bahl, Vikramaditya Motwane and Madhu Mantena in 2011. The woman claimed in an interview to Huffington Post that despite telling Kashyap about the incident, which took place in 2015, he took no action against Bahl, and instead deployed her to work with Bahl for a project. The woman resigned in January 2017. An initial news report on the alleged assault came out in the Mumbai Mirror tabloid in May.
The article was first published in Scroll.in and is being republished under special arrangement