The #MeToo movement has exposed many and the recent one to come under the radar is singer Anu Malik. After Sona Mohapatra accused the singer of being a serial offender, another singer has raised her voice against Anu Malik. Singer Shweta Pandit has accused Malik of sexually harassing her when she was a minor at 15.
Via Twitter, Shweta has revisited the horrifying incident with Anu Malik and has a termed him a paedophile.
We got in touch with Shweta and she narrated the entire story.
What are your thoughts on the ongoing #MeToo movement?
It's good that people are coming out and talking about their stories. You can understand how clever these people (offenders) are. They leave a kind of impression on kids you know, it affected me and I kept quiet because the time it happened to me, I didn’t even confront my family and that was my fault. And don’t forget that we are from a country, where if a rape happens people assume the woman is only at fault. So I thought if I will say anything, my career’s freedom would be at stake and the path that I wished to take in the music industry, would be questioned at my home and they will start having internal discussions that I should get married now and I would be the one blamed for everything. And because I was so young back then, my dreams would have been destroyed, so I had to keep silence because I had no other choice and I had to fight internally. I couldn’t even go to anyone for healing. I got depressed, troubles, my parents didn’t even come to know about it. In fact, I confronted my mother a day before putting it on social… it took me 17 years to tell it to my mother! Also because it’s very difficult to deal with the mentality of our country, many women messaged me and said that they are scared to say anything and how did I do this and from where did I get the courage for it? I also felt good that I tweeted about him through my account and if that tries to change the mindset of people. I am trying to help them, I am trying to let them know that we are there for them and there’s no need to be scared of anything and I am very happy with the fact that I am getting an immense amount of support because of this movement and my voice is being heard. People are understanding what kind of situation I have been through back then. That man had tried to decide on my career and act as god. It was a matter of just one decision, I could have left the industry then and there.
I am really sorry that I am taking you back in the past, but could you just narrate the whole incident that happened 17 years ago?
I get very emotional to be very honest and that is the reason I penned down everything I wanted to and when some other reporter had asked me I broke down. It’s very difficult for me to go back because even now I am choking, it’s very difficult to repeat what had happened. I hope my detailed account gives you all the information you want and I can’t say it myself and I can only say that I have written for all the paedophiles because they are the ones who don’t even spare kids in our profession or in any other profession I am sure. I wrote everything, especially, for all the parents so that they don’t leave their kids alone even for a second - not even while going to the bathroom and this is the most important message I would like to convey. Because people can molest kids anywhere, even in the bathroom so please don’t leave your kids alone.
The industry’s very small. After the incident I am sure you might have bumped into Anu Malik, did he have the courage to come and interact with you?
What will he interact, I am only ignoring him since the past 15 years. I don't even want to talk to that man. People have always respected him and greeted him but I have never spoken to him and even in award functions and all, I have always maintained a distance and showed my disappointment that’s the only thing I could do right. I have asked for an apology, but no kind of apology can bring back a kid’s youth that was damaged. An elder lady would have given it back to him and if I were old enough I would have definitely raised my voice against him in that situation. I was very naïve and wasn’t even aware of any word called sexual at that point of time and was not understanding that what is this man trying to say and I just knew that whatever is happening is absolutely wrong.
Are you planning to pursue any legal action against Anu Malik?
I could happily file a case against him because this thing is important on the legal part as well but before that, I will have to understand everything that every other aspect of the case. It’s not the usual legal case that any woman can file because I was of a certain age back then and I have been told that it falls under some different section and right now I am in Italy and I didn’t have any plan to put this up on Twitter but I got the courage after seeing that many people never talk about it, not even during the ongoing #MeToo movement. And when I return back to Mumbai after 10 days, I will understand the legal procedures of it because the whole team of #MeToo is in India and there are ladies who are providing lawyers so I will have to meet them to understand what can be done in my case, before taking any decision.
Don’t you think it’s time to talk more about this issue and raise awareness, especially among the kids?
Thankfully, the era that we are living in right now, the kids are very intelligent, smart and straight-forward. When I was a kid I couldn’t speak a word, I used to open my mouth only to sing. I was scared of my father (out of respect). Also, I was the youngest out of all my siblings and we used to talk in “ji” and “haanji” with everyone. I couldn’t even think of sharing my personal experiences with them especially that of harassment. Nowadays, kids are very bold and free in front of media they are also very confident, we didn’t have such confidence in us. We were very afraid, shy and under-confident. The reason I am comparing because had I been a kid from today’s generation, I would fight back the very next day and would have confessed everything to my parents and if I were a 15-years-old kid today, it would have been today’s news only. Because at that time, when I was a 15-year-old kid, it was very scary for me to confront the kind of situation I had been through because I thought the blame would come on me and career and my would end. “Shweta Pandit, please keep quiet”, was my state of mind.
Many accused have stepped down from their respective positions, do you think Anu Malik will also step down?
I am not only the one. I am sure there are many other girls with a similar story. They should take their time and expose him. But I found it really important to share my story because that man has been getting away with a lot and Alisha Chinai had done it when no one else did. And people should realise that he has got a good old history in this before hiring him. They have to decide something, this is not for me or for Alisha, it is for the betterment of the people you all are working with. We don’t work so hard to get into an environment like this. When I had gone to his studio, Anu Malik was a very popular music composer, it’s not the same now though. It was a very big deal for me that I was called to his studio, my parents were proud of me but it was all ruined once I reached there and my respect was in danger that I had to escape it. I didn’t work so hard to face that, I started questioning my entire life after that that what went wrong and this is the thing that shouldn’t happen. No girl should get that feeling of fear that she would end up getting molested at her workplace and that is the reason I myself, took this to Twitter. If I wanted I could have kept it anonymous but I didn’t because I wanted people to know what happened to me. When he can say this to a person like me who comes from a family of singers, he can do this to anyone. I really wish to know what he has done with many others of them. People like him are so badtameez that they can go up to any level with anyone. People who trust him I want to say that, he has done this to me under my mother’s nose. So, this is my story and this is what I wanted to share.
When we contacted Anu Malik to speak up on these allegations, we received his lawyer's statement, "The allegations made against my client are emphatically denied as completely false and baseless. My client respects the #MeToo movement but to use this movement to start a character assassination mission is obnoxious"
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