Bollywood stars back actress Tanushree Dutta who claims she was sexually harassed by veteran actor Nana Patekar

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Bollywood star Nana Patekar, who plays the role of a policeman, poses for photographers during a media gathering to speak about his role in the Indian movie “Ab Tak Chhappan” (56 Until Now), in Mumbai, India March 3, 2004. REUTERS/Sherwin Crasto/Files

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Bollywood stars are speaking up against sexual harassment after allegations against veteran actor Nana Patekar surfaced this week, with several calling for action against perpetrators in an industry that is notorious for its exploitation of women.

Tanushree Dutta, a Bollywood actress and former Miss India, said in press interviews this week that Patekar, a veteran actor who is now 67, had harassed her on the sets of a film in 2008. Dutta had made the same allegations in 2008 and Patekar had denied them at the time.

“Back then, these incidents would be discussed only behind closed doors and not openly, as is being done now. No one supported me,” Dutta told Zoom TV in an interview.

Calls to Patekar on Friday went unanswered.

But Rajendra Shirodkar, a lawyer for Patekar, threatened legal action against Dutta for making “false allegations”.

“We’ve sent her a notice for making false allegations. She should apologize to my client,” Shirodkar told Reuters. “If she doesn’t, then we shall chart a future course of action”.

Dutta alleges that Patekar wanted an “intimate step” with her in a dance number in the film “Horn OK Please”.

When she refused, Dutta alleges that Patekar called workers of a local political party who damaged her car and threatened her.

The MeToo movement has found resonance in Bollywood, where the vast majority of producers and film-makers are men, most of whom are from prominent families in the film industry.

Bollywood actors like Priyanka Chopra, Farhan Akhtar and Richa Chaddha tweeted in support of Dutta.

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