Main Bhi caught up in Me Too storm

  • Haroon Mirani
  • Publish Date: Mar 11 2019 5:57AM
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  • Updated Date: Mar 11 2019 5:57AM
Main Bhi caught up in Me Too stormRepresentational Pic

After making a Kashmir-oriented feature film Sargoshiyan, when Bollywood actor and producer Imran Khan was in search of new idea he hit up on a bold subject, gripping yet least talked about in the society.The filmmaker roped in his team and together they decided to bring to silver screen, one of the most unconventional themes of male child sexual abuse. A real incident of abuse of young male children inside a jail came to limelight in Bhopal and Imran decided to weave his story around it.“It is the subject which is least talked about let alone made into a film. A victim woman at some part of her life narrates the story of her suffering with her mother, fiends, sister or spouse, but victim men hardly talk about it. Although the abuse shatter them inside, but given the perceived image of masculinity and patriarchal society, they don’t talk about it,” said the filmmaker and actor Imran Khan.“We wanted to show what happens to such men in their life. How their hidden suffering destroys them and sometimes people around them (too).”

Given Imrans newfound love for Jammu and Kashmir, the producer-actor wanted to shoot the movie in Kashmir. He had decided to film in Jammu but changed his mind at the last stage.“The main reason was that I didn’t want to portray Kashmir in some bad light. I love Kashmir and have been making efforts to bring out best stories from here. But this story would not have suited Kashmir,” said Imran, accepting at the same time that such incidents have definitely happened in Kashmir.“The abuse of male child in jails or even homes happens everywhere. Kashmir is no exception. Some cases have come to fore but the majority of cases remain hidden.”

The film titled Main Bhi (me too) tries to take the movement of the same name a step further.The movie revolves around a plot in which a jailer is mysteriously killed. Investigation reveals the criminal to be some strangers, who initially refuse to divulge the motive of the murder. The story then flashbacks into past wherein it is revealed that the murderers were free spirited young children who were once sent to a remand home after being convicted for some petty crime. In the jail they are sexually abused by the same jailer, many years ago. It then turns out that the jailer was the notorious sex offender who used to sexually abuse the male children and young teens in his custody.

The film weaves the story of these friends and shows how that suffering comes out in their life. One of them cannot cope in his professional life; another suffers in marriage and so on. In the movie, the abuse always haunts the men.

“It is not that a child is abused and he forgets everything, because he is a man. The abuse manifests into his personality throughout his life. At every stage of life something triggers the rush of emotions. Sometimes it is his marital relationship or sometimes his professional work,” said Imran.“Same happens in this film, wherein the characters suffer silently throughout their lives. As if something has gone amiss in their lives.”

Though cinema enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting its release, but ironically the film has been caught up in a peculiar situation caused by Me Too movement and involving one of its casts.

Actor Alok Nath, who was accused as a sexual offender as the Me Too movement raged recently plays the vital role of a judge in Imran’s film.Nath was cast to peform the judge’s character months before the movement started. He gives a passionate speech at the end against a certain rape culture, a high point of the movie.

“Alok Nath has given 40 years to the film industry. There has never been any incident or any words against him. Then all of a sudden somebody comes with a 20 year old complaint, which she, the complainant herself is unable to prove,” contends Imran.“In the thick of me too movement, everybody announced verdict on him without listening to his side. Even the following probe failed to get any concrete evidence of any wrongdoing by Alok Nath.”

Following allegations by Vinta Nanda, the veteran actor was expelled from the Cine and TV Artistes Association (CINTAA) and a court granted him anticipatory bail.

Nath has denied the allegations. His lawyer claimed Nanda’s allegations were “imaginary”, “a fairy tale” and “comic book.”On 15 October 2018, Nath sued Nanda for defamation, asking for a written apology and Re 1 as compensation. He has filed the case jointly along with his wife Ashu Nath.Alok Nath had also played a role of a Kashmiri Pandit in Imran’s earlier movie on Kashmir, Sargoshiyan, in which never leaves Kashmir despite his family migrating to other parts of India. The Pandit is depicted as a patriotic Kashmiri who suffers a lot, but never leaves his homeland.

After his brilliant performance Imran cast Nath for the role of the judge in his next movie, Main Bhi. Even as the Me Too issue with Alok Nath fails to make any headway, the film is suffering.

“There has been no headway in the case. Nothing has been proven yet. Even during inquiry the women who made allegations could not give satisfactory answers. If the allegations had been true, then the situation would have been different. But as of now everything is in hearsay mode and still Alok Nath has been punished without proof,” said Imran.“The entire situation has made our film to suffer. There is the delay in release due to it.”

Imran says he desired to promote a social message through Main Bhi and wanted good actors to play the roles leading him to Alok Nath.“Now my movie is stuck as people rake up the issue that why did I cast him. This is despite the fact no allegation has been proven against him till date,” Imran said.“The movie wants to highlight this important subject. We want discussion on it and we need to educate our children to speak up. Staying quite is helping the criminals. Many lives will be saved if they open up and speak.”

The film is directed by Nasir Hakim and produced by Imran Khan, who also wrote the story. Besides Alok Nath, it features Shahbaz Khan, Mukesh Khanna, Shonali Raut, Nawaab Shah, Khalid Siddiqi, Shahwar Ali Khan, Imran khan in main roles.