A press conference after the trailer launch of De De Pyaar De where the cast of the film was present took place on Tuesday. The cast members included birthday-boy Ajay Devgn, Tabu, and Rakul Preet Singh among others. Alok Nath, the so-called "sanskaari babuji" of Bollywood, is also a part of De De Pyaar De. Let us remind you that Alok Nath was accused of rape and harassment by producer Vinta Nanda and while he did deny any and all charges, actors like Sandhya Mridul, Renuka Shahane, Deepika Amin, Himani Shivpuri, and an anonymous crew-member not only attested to the fact that Nath is a predator but also wrote about how he assaulted them. So, quite naturally, a journalist questioned Ajay Devgn about Alok Nath and his involvement in the film. Before the journalist could complete her question, Devgn cut her off with a curt reply. Have a look:
According to Ajay Devgn, a press conference of a film's trailer launch is not a place to ask questions about the actors in the film. Roughly translated, Devgn's reply to the journalist was, "Listen, I don't think this is the place to talk about it and the film was completed long before all this." This makes us question - what do we debate about at Bollywood press conferences if not issues that plague our film industry and society at large? The #MeToo Movement brought to light multiple instances of vulnerable survivors coming out of the woodwork to expose the predators that rule the roost.
Unfortunately, Ajay Devgn's reply to the young, female journalist only enforced the belief that men will always protect other men. Also, what else do we do at press conferences if not ask hard-hitting questions to the men and women that are titans of their own industry about the same industry's shameful, not-so-secret, secrets? Shouldn't Mr Devgn have addressed the question in a diplomatic (if not an honest) manner? Why didn't Tabu or Rakul Preet Singh step in to provide a worthy comment on a movement solely sustained by survivors of sexual assault and harassment? There was finally a question about something worthwhile at the press conference of a romantic comedy (even originality takes a U-turn at these) and Devgn could have knocked the ball out of the park. Sadly, he didn't.