Monday, 27 March 2017

Call for an Alliance

27th March

Ekabali Ghosh, student, Jadavpur University wrote to me about the sexual harassment case she was fighting at her university. An idea popped up and i invited women.Put up a Facebook status saying this:

Friends I have an idea. We need an alliance. Jadavpur University, I remember reading about the sexual harassment incidents there. I had even spoken at a seminar. Talked long about the need for a proper ICC-SH and how that is the first step towards justice. Don't know how many of you remember me. Anyway, let us form this alliance. Our cause is the same. Sexual harassment. Our enemy is the same. Powerful administration, sexist environment, hostile students. JU people in my list, tag people who can be part of this group. I shall do so with SRFTI. Now be prepared to receive personal messages advising you about my character, how most sexual harassment cases are untrue and all that. Also I am not in Kolkata and am operating from Bombay while working here. So like being a student and fighting like most of you, I have time issues. But I thought for long and I have come to the conclusion that this is the best way. I'll introduce myself in first comment. Love.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

What is SRFTI Hiding?

25th March 2017

Hello,
Please listen carefully. This is a very mucky mess. There is a larger nexus of students, professors, influential people, filmmakers etc involved and we, a small group of women are at the receiving end of this violence. We are aspiring filmmakers who have a lot to do, a lot of films to make. It is just not fair that our future is being trampled upon by such people who have all the power they need to crush us under their feet. So listen with your soul, please. 

2nd March 2017: Internal Complaints Committee for Sexual Harassment [ICC-SH] of Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute [SRFTI] submitted its report on a case I had filed against a professor. [The professor’s name has been made public in the media, I just don’t want to do that here.] Rape was ONE OF THE SEVERAL charges in my complaint. The complaint in its entirety was made public by me long ago when I was under a massive attack by the powers mentioned above. You can read it here.
Around the same time I also publicly came out as the rape complainant in SRFTI because people even publicly wondered if I was for real. The video can be found here

It is already very shameful that a sexual harassment complainant has to constantly prove herself right while the accused just have to wave their magic wands and say spells like ‘slut shame’, ‘relationship’, ‘seduced’, ‘jilted lover’ etc. So for the last time, I am making something clear: I was never in a relationship with that man. And nobody has the right to tell a woman something as stupid as ‘you could not have been raped because you were in a relationship with him’. Also, jilted-lover-getting-back-at-the-unsuspecting-professor theory would have made sense if he was the one who terminated the non consensual sex. [That was all there was to it except for his manipulation and coercion in so many levels]. It was me. Some time after he asked me if he could have a threesome with me and my then boyfriend. All right? 

Please keep in mind that SRFTI forwarded my complaint WITHOUT MY PERMISSION to the police and therefore I have to fight a court case now. That was on the charge of rape. The ICC-SH looked into charges OTHER THAN RAPE and submitted its report on March 2nd.
I have not been given the report yet even though it should have been done long ago. Ideally, depending upon the content of the report, action should have been taken by SRFTI. For example if the professor was not found guilty he should have been cleared of blame. If he had been found guilty subsequent action should have followed. This decision would have happened on 10th March, which was when the Governing Council [GC] meeting was scheduled. This is the meeting which was chaired by Amala Akkineni and had Madhu Bhandarkar! present. [The same Bollywood Director accused of rape and the complainant later mysteriously withdrew her complaint]. In this meeting instead of the action I mentioned, it was decided that the ICC-SH shall be dissolved! 

Kindly put two and two together. What is SRFTI hiding? Why have they not given the report to me? Why is it that in a meeting where the report should have been discussed and action taken on the professor, the body which submitted the report was dissolved? There are carcasses everywhere that it stinks so bad. Let me also point out that another case against another professor was also under investigation by the same ICC when the decision to dissolve it was taken. 

Soon after this is when a resurgence of slut shaming of me happened. My complaint against the professor which is a public document was one of those in which 90% of people yelled ‘She couldn’t have been raped’, because in some cozy corner the accused was casually waving his magic wand and whispering the spells i mentioned earlier. But one man cannot do it. He was supported by the vicious nexus of SRFTI and its power houses. Students who are usually powerless also become powerful and bare their teeth in arrogance when they have the backing of professors and higher authorities.
Soon after this Director Debamitra Mitra was so emboldened, she told my own mother that her daughter was staying with the professor and made the complaint only after that. She was so emboldened, that she wrote a group of feminists the exact words she told my mother. That women including me were ‘misusing’ the Sexual Harassment Act, we were ‘nefarious’ and ‘wayward’. Where is this power coming from? As an employee of Government of India, whatever your personal beliefs are, you will definitely think twice before saying that the Sexual Harassment Prevention in Workplaces Act is something which is being misused. Yet, she, forget being a government employee, certainly our government is in deeper shit, being a woman and a citizen dared say that. Where is she drawing her power from? Why is she confident that I could not have been raped even when ICC-SH had not even investigated the rape charge? Where is my report? Give it to me. What are you hiding? Show it to me.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Nefarious Women of SRFTI

23rd March 2017

Maitree (a network of women's rights activists and individuals) had written to Debamitra Mitra, Director, SRFTI protesting the dissolution of SRFTI Committee for Sexual Harassment. Debamitra Mitra responded in the most preposterous way possible. Below is the complete letter. The highlight is mine.


Dear Ms. Kapur,
This is to acknowledge receipt of your mail dated March 20, 2017. To be honest, I have been inexplicably shocked and surprised to receive it as it has been difficult to accept that such a mail could come from someone of your stature, vision, mission and wisdom. The most unfortunate aspect of your initiative to get into an important administrative decision which was endorsed by the eminent members of the Governing Council is the implied suggestion that rules and law of the land have been mercilessly trampled by an insensitive administration of the Institute. The mail obviously raised a serious question on my administrative honesty, integrity and competence. It also projects me as a person who is completely bereft of any sympathy or compassion for the victims of sexual harassment.
Everybody needs to appreciate and acknowledge that I am a woman too, and being so, I am equally concerned about the dignity, security and safety of my girl students. However, as their guardian in the institute, I cannot discriminate my students on grounds of genders or on any other narrow considerations. I have always felt that while a girl student must be made to feel assured of full protection against any kind of harassment, she should also understand that misuse or abuse of law with ulterior motive cannot be allowed or tolerated. We cannot afford to maintain philosophical indifference in the face of any nefarious attempt by some misguided wayward women to bring disrepute to the entire women community. There are several instances where law made to protect the interest of citizens have been abused. Section 498A of the IPC and the RTI Act are a few examples.
Please be assured that there are strong reasons for formation of a new ICC. I would request you to believe that the Institute administration headed by me cannot and will not do anything that can be translated as against law or as deliberate denial of justice to my own dear female students who become genuine victims of sexual harassment. However, I shall also continue to be tough wherever there is an attempt by any woman to misuse the provisions of the Act to settle other scores.
Regards.  
Dr. Debamitra Mitra
Director
Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute
E.M. ByPass Rd, Panchasayar
Kolkata-700094
Phone: 913324328355, 24328356, 24329300
Fax: 91332432-0723
Web: http://www.srfti.ac.in
 
There is only one more thing I'd like to add here and that is #Debamitramitraresign


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Director Debamitra Mitra Harasses Mother of Rape Complainant

22nd March 2017

Director of SRFTI, Debamitra Mitra. Picture Courtesy: Newsmen.in

I don't know if you'll believe me when I say this. But this happened. Amala Akkineni, the acting chairperson of SRFTI (a film school known for its alarming number of sexual harassment cases more than cinema) had asked me to walk into Director Debamitra Mitra's room and ask her anything I wanted to know. She had ensured that sexual harassment complainants like me will be given justice. Let me give you a sample of the justice I got from Debamitra Mitra. 

Since I had to leave for Bombay to do the colour correction of my film, my mother had said that she'd give a letter expressing concern over the developments related to sexual harassment in the institute to Director Debamitra Mitra. Below are the things Debamitra Mitra did when Mother met her for the same.

Debamitra Mitra told my mother that the professor who raped me and I were staying together in the institute. She ASKED MY MOTHER TO SIGN A PAPER which said that my mother had denied Debamitra's claim. She told Mother that her daughter's complaint of rape was made only after her having stayed with him. [Insinuating that I had 'enjoyed' staying with him and that abuse was an afterthought]

Yes, she was talking about the same professor against whom I am fighting a case of rape in Calcutta high court, the same professor who has not attended even one hearing of the internal inquiry. Debamitra Mitra should appear for that man in court with this kind of slut shaming skills. 

She also went ahead and asked my mother if she'd heard of section 498. 'Write it down if you haven't' she said. Debamitra Mitra 'informed' my mother that section 498 was abolished because of increased misuse of it by daughters in law. If anyone has her number please feel free to ask her what she meant. She also gave her a sweet assurance: 

"Now Srfti will not harass her (me) because she will be going out from SRFTI by 31st march. Now a woman director has come"

My mother felt faint and a doctor had to be called. Her BP had shot up. She had to ask for a vehicle to be arranged for her to get back home. She missed the train she had to catch today to Delhi.

Ms. Debamitra Mitra, do you have any explanation for this that you did to my mother? I am coming back. You will have to answer me. You will have to face the consequences of what you did to a mother who stood with her girl when she was sexually harassed. I am not going anywhere till you are told, taught, by women like me what you need to know. 

#Debamitramitraresign

Monday, 13 March 2017

Guess Who Takes Decisions About Sexual Harassment in SRFTI

13th March 2017






Hi people, you know Madhur Bhandarkar, right? You know how he was accused of rape and how the girl told the court for 'mysterious reasons' that she didn't want to pursue the case, right? Now you know SRFTI right? That prestigious film institute in which sexual harassment cases including that of rape came up against three professors, last year? Against one more professor going on currently. Yeah, so guess what, when a new Governing Council [GC – the highest decision making body of the institute] had to be formed after all of this, SRFTI approached this man, Madhur Bhandarkar to be a member. They couldn’t think of any other person in the country, i guess.
While the institute maintained that they ABSOLUTELY needed a female for the post of the Director of the institute, because of the history of sexual harassment cases, people like Bhandarkar and Debamitra Mitra, the female director everyone was keen to appoint, made the decision of reconstituting the sexual harassment complaints committee. 

Oh, by the way another man who was approached to be member of the council was Irrfan Khan. Yes, he, another accused in a sexual harassment case is a member too. So tell you what, i’ll like to make a list of all such film people involved in sexual harassment in order to make it easy for SRFTI to choose its Governing Council members in future. Let's start with Shiney Ahuja who went to jail for raping his maid, was 'welcomed' back to the film world and was accused of harassing his co-actor. Dear Shiney Ahuja and others who like sexually harassing, raping women etc. Please approach SRFTI, they will welcome you with pleasure.
Meanwhile we will fight this predator institute with all the might we can gather.


Saturday, 11 March 2017

SRFTI DISSOLVES SEXUAL HARASSMENT COMMITTEE IN A SHOCKING HURRIED MOVE



11th March 2017, Kolkata

The matter has become clear now. We now know why we, sexual harassment complainants, mostly Sreecheta Das and i have been facing a new wave of violence and harassment from the institute of late.

In the Governing Council meeting yesterday it was decided that Putul Mahmood will be removed from the position of Chairperson of ICC [Internal Complaints Committee for Sexual Harassment]. This decision has been made in the most dubious way possible. It is not even legal. ICCs are declared valid or invalid by courts and not by allegations made by professors who have a history with sexual harassment complainants. This is a very serious issue and needs to be addressed as soon as possible because it is impossible for us to see it removed from the context of two recent incidents, Sreecheta being subjected to an enquiry on the grounds that she vilified a professor and me being threatened that my diploma work shall be stalled. It should also be noted that this decision has been taken while

a)      Ms Sreecheta Das has a sexual harassment complaint of which the preliminary report has been submitted already by the committee chaired by Putul Mahmood.
b)   A court case is being fought by two professors found guilty of sexual harassment against the ICC and the institute. This is to say that while we girls are also party to that case and are fighting it, one fine day SRFTI has decided that it shall bypass the court of law. 
 c)   An ICC is constituted for a period not less than three years and that means that its tenure is till April 2018. This is not about the people involved. It is about the irregularity of the affair and the context and setting against which it is being done. 
 d)   SRFTI does not have a Chairperson now and yesterday's GC meeting was presided by actress Amala Akkineneni. We have reasons to believe that outsiders like her who was present in the meeting were grossly misinformed or duped into taking this decision. Minutes of the meeting are not available to us majorly because most of the time they are not written and secondly because nobody gives us anything.

Such irregularities have been happening for a long time, even ones involving lots and lots of money and sexual harassment issue brought this institute under the glare of media. We also believe that this move has been made also by those who have been questioned repeatedly by audit and CAG reports. We urge our filmmaker friends and others who have stood with us in this battle to support us by doing whatever you can to help us get justice and lead a peaceful life in SRFTI. Frankly, all of us are tired of fighting the institute. We need urgent help with the following:
a)      Getting the news and other details out in media. [SRFTI is an important source of money for many of the newspapers here and of late we have seen tendencies which tell us that media has been made to shut up with money in matters related to SRFTI]
b)      We had written to Minister M Venkaiah Naidu expressing our apprehension with respect to the appointment of the new Director of SRFTI. What we had suspected would happen has just happened. If there is anybody who can help us get in touch with the minister to follow up on this, please help us.
We will fight sexual harassment. Don't try to weaken us, destroy us, break us or kill us. We will fight.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

LETTER TO SRFTI: LET ME MAKE FILMS

Subject: Permission to Complete Diploma Work

Dear Dean, Dear Registrar, in case the Dean is the professor mentioned in this letter who practises untouchability with me,

I am writing this letter to bring to your attention a few details. SRFTI is trying to ruin my career. Yes, i do believe that snatching a film from a student director is equivalent to snatching her career away from her. Most of us go the vast world of films with our student projects as certificates. It is a very well known fact that no filmmaker asks for a certificate from an institute but only evaluates your capabilities looking at your previous works. The hardships that SRFTI had subjected me to, during the shoot of my diploma project have been duly documented in the form of numerous letters i had written while in the middle of the project. Now there are the following problems that have been put in front of me and i have been humiliated to no end ONCE AGAIN.

Yesterday, (9th March 2017), my student editor messaged me asking me to call her. When i did, she told me that Prof. Saikat S Ray had told her that the lab disk should be made on the same day. Later when i asked Prof. Ray, he told me that that was not what he had said and that what he meant was that it was better the earlier it was done. I completely agree. I would love to complete my work as soon as possible. IF YOU LET ME.

  1. When i went to collect signatures from all HoDs on the crew list as the procedure is, here, Prof. Debashish Ghoshal told me that he cannot permit Kalhan Raina’s name be written under the title ‘Sound’. I told him that that would be equivalent to stalling my project and he said ‘let that be’. He first told me that if that credit was maintained, he would have to terminate Kalhan Raina’s studentship. Later he called Kalhan and told him that ‘he will can my film’. I find this extremely intimidating and irregular from the part of a professor. He holds power and he was blatantly giving out a threat. Not cool. Not done. He did not even see that the credit list i had given had both Shib Sankar’s name and Prof Abdul Rajjak’s name under ‘Production Sound Recordist’ and ‘Mix’ respectively. This is evident from the note he penned in his own hand while the paper was with R P and Prof. Debashish Guha.
    Yet, in the evening of the same day, i had a talk with him and the matter was resolved verbally with neither him nor me, being happy, but yes, i get it, the world is not perfect and nobody is honest, SRFTI, the least of all, because SRFTI’s policy, i got to know today, is that credits shall not be given to the person who worked and will be given to random people who did not work. I sometimes imagine a situation in which Mr Shib Shankar is asked what the story of my film is. Here, even if a person has not even read the script, they will be given credits. This apparently is government policy. So be it, governments are like that. Like i said, the issue was resolved between professor Ghoshal and me in the evening and this letter is to put on record the events which happened and the humiliation i faced.
  2. As if that was not enough, Ms R P, my student editor, decided to help in ways she can. I know that i am taking a lot of your time but some letters have to be long. Especially when i have been pushed to the edge of a cliff. So, here is the chronology of events EVERY ONE of them for which i have supporting screenshots from my phone. As soon as my animation got over, i informed Ms R P to come to Kolkata to do the rest of the job which are the following
    a) Subtitling
    b) Making credit cards
    c) Making the lab disk
    d) Do a minor change in edit because the picture placement had to be changed by a few frames after sound work.

    Some related facts: I had asked permission from Editing department to do some of these jobs (have the supporting letter and reply) so that i could save time. It was not possible because I was doing animation work during the workdays and Prof. Saikat told me that it would be difficult to open the department just for me on weekends. Since it was a genuine problem i had to give up. I had to wait for animation and sound to get over so that i could call Ms R P back. I did, on 20th January 2017.
    She told me that she was busy and that she’d come in the first week of February. I asked her to come on February 1st, she said she’d reach after 3rd. She reached on 6th February 2017. On 7th she told me that she’d see me in 2nd half. On the same day i gave her the necessary files to start work. On 8th February, when i said that i would be late to come because in the morning i was doing some changes in Sound with Kalhan, she said that she will start work only after i come. When i saw how slow she was in doing subtitles and also considering the fact that the language Malayalam might give her problems, i took over the job of subtitling. I completed the first draft, if i may call it that in one day. Attaching screenshot where she is asking me to ‘continue work’ because she had ‘some work’.
    After i finished subtitling she again dilly dallied around the titles. Again, to save my own time, i decided to make the required .tiff files myself. When the work did not get over, she told me that she’d be leaving on 15th February, Wednesday. Since i am no expert in photoshop, i kept on asking her details of the kind of file she needed to which she had no answers. Finally i had to ask her to give Prof. Santanu’s number. I couldn’t reach him on that number and i took a .tiff out with whatever limited knowledge i had.

    In the following screenshot you can see her asking ‘if i really needed her’. Like i said, i told her that under Saikat’s instructions i am doing the titles myself. Prf. Saikat S Ray can also confirm that it was he who put a LuT on my film and gave me an out because i had to submit it to a festival. R P was absent. Throughout.

  3. Regarding 2)d), anybody who checks my film can see the portion still being out of sync because Ms R P has still not synced it. I stopped asking because there simply is a limit to asking a person to do their job. If i knew how to work on Avid, i would have done it. Sadly, i don’t have time to learn that software now because now i have to learn After Effects to make titles.
    In the following screenshot

    You can see her asking for the pen drive while i was working in Sound department from 7 p.m to 2 a.m. On 6th March, I was supposed to sign the DVD in sound department. When I sat down with R P to do the titles, i realized that she is slow in doing that on Avid and therefore there was no way i could sign the DVD. More than that, what struck me was that she was more interested in knowing the Sound title card and what was written in it. Since i saw the speed at which she was working, that night i calculated the time using Premiere Pro. If she had told me she was slow with Avid, she herself or i myself could have done it earlier in Premiere. I lost a day there. Finally with the duration i calculated, the finals sound mix was done and i signed the disk.
  4. On 8th March, ironically enough, Women’s day, she called me. While i was running around departments asking for signatures from HoDs, she scanned the title list. She asked me if i had got a signature from Sound department. I said no. Prof. Putul Mahmood was acting HoD of my department and i was in a hurry because she had asked me to go to her office in ten minutes for her signature. So i asked Ms R P to get signature from her HoD who is Mr Shyamal Karmakar who practises untouchability with me. She left. She was taking a lot of time so i had to call her up again and ask her if it was done. She was in front of Editing Department with Prof Debashish Guha and Prof. Debashish Ghoshal was walking away from them. Upon reaching there i saw that she had not got the signature of her HoD and that Prof. Ghoshal had written his notes on my paper. I lost my cool and had to raise my voice to ask her why she had not got signature from her HoD. She said that he wasn’t on campus. Miraculously in five minutes, i saw him approach Ms. R P. Praise the Lord for these miracles! I had to snatch my paper away from her and the professor there because it was utterly humiliating.
  5. I don’t mind doing any amount of work for my film. I have already done subtitling and created the files needed for titling. I can do the rest myself too. Or anybody BUT Ms R P. Because i am not here to get humiliated by her or anyone else. I am aware that the institute does not trust me, but believe me, i am more honest than all of SRFTI put together. But that doesn’t count. If you don’t trust me with the work, you can appoint anybody you trust to oversee the work. Or like i said, anybody can do it and i can be there just to make sure it is being done the right way. In either case, i cannot work with Ms R P. She has been punished for ragging, she is not even allowed inside the hostel, yet she is here. She is the person who held a General Body meeting against me and yet i did nothing. If till this moment i kept my cool and i lost it today, there is a reason. It is because Ms R P ceased being professional.

Hope you understand the situation and act accordingly. If not, please get ready to seeing me every day in SRFTI at your door, demanding justice, till the day you kill me, institutionally. Trust me, you don’t want to see me every day. I am an ugly sight.
Thanks,
kunjila, 9th March, 2017, Kolkata.

She Leaves Me. Again

For years I have struggled to explain to her how she hurts me. How I get hurt even when she has no clue that I am getting hurt. She ...