Vikas Bahl, Queen director, at the centre of sexual harassment allegations, claims report

It’s considered among the Hindi film industry’s most progressive film production companies, with several path-breaking, critically acclaimed and commercially successful movies having been made under its banner.

However, Phantom — founded by Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, Madhu Mantena and Vikas Bahl — is now at the receiving end of some unflattering attention.

Vikas Bahl. Image courtesy News 18
Vikas Bahl. Image courtesy News 18
A complaint of sexual harassment has allegedly been brought against Bahl, the director of Queen and Shaandaar.

The allegation surfaced in a Mumbai Mirror report dated 6 April 2017, although a smaller item published in the same newspaper a day earlier had sketched out the details of the controversy without stating any actual names.

This earlier article had merely stated that trouble was brewing in a production house over accusations of sexual harassment against one of its founders (“who directed a blockbuster in the recent past’), leading to a schism between him and his “band of brothers”.

However, the 6 April report — headlined ‘Fact or Phantom?’ — clearly states that the production house in question is Phantom and this director, Vikas Bahl.

As per the report, one of Phantom’s female employee has complained to the Human Resources team about sexual misbehaviour on the part of Bahl on a visit to Goa a couple of months earlier. Mirror’s report goes on to quote a source from within the production house (seemingly one of the founders) stating that the complaint has been taken very seriously, a committee set up to investigate it according to the Vishakha Guidelines, and that Bahl has been asked to step down from his role at Phantom. This source’s comments indicate that this isn’t the first complaint of this nature against Bahl.

However, Phantom’s Madhu Mantena has stated on record to Mirror that no such developments have taken place against the company. In fact, Mantena has denied the existence of a complaint against Bahl to begin with.

Vikas Bahl, who is at present in Delhi, told Mirror’s correspondent that he was very much still a part of Phantom and denied the allegations of sexual misconduct.

“Nothing has happened. I am running the company. There is no complaint to HR and there is no Vishakha committee. I have heard about this particular lady you are speaking about and the Goa incident. She is not my employee. Yes, I am friends with her, we have worked together and there is a particular production job we have done together…but if she is feeling like this then I would like to sit across a table from her and talk to her. I want to ask her if I have crossed a line, whether I have done anything to hurt her and if she feels that way, I would like to apologise for it,” Bahl told Mirror in a statement.

The Mirror report detailing these allegations against Bahl comes in the wake of the TVF row, where its CEO Arunabh Kumar was accused of sexually harassing several women who worked with him. The controversy broke when an anonymous blog published under the moniker “Indian Fowler” (a nod to Susan Fowler, whose Medium post about the toxic work culture at Uber had gone viral) was widely circulated here.

Indian Fowler had alleged that Kumar sexually harassed her when she was employed with TVF (The Viral Fever). Even as TVF and Kumar categorically denied the allegations and claimed that a person matching Indian Fowler’s description (as mentioned in her blog post) had never worked at the company, several other women came forward on social media to level similar charges against Kumar. At present, two FIRs have been filed against Kumar with the Mumbai Police.

Related Articles

Back to top button