The #MeToo campaign began as a hashtag on Twitter in 2017 amid the Harvey Weinstein, where the noted Hollywood producer had been accused of sexual harassment by over 70 women.
Following the global outrage over the Harvey Weinstein incident in the West, the #MeToo movement has finally arrived in India, engulfing the whole media and entertainment industry. Several women have bravely come out with stories about harassment and sexual abuse at workplace at the hands of the powerful and higher-ups.
Ever since Tanushree Dutta, in an interview, alleged that Nana Patekar misbehaved with her while filming a special song for Horn Ok Pleassss in 2008, many well-known comedians, journalists, and actors have been named and shamed on social media in the past few days as allegations of sexual misconduct continue to burst out.
However, the #MeToo is a mere hashtag which is trending currently. Similar kind of allegations were called out in India almost two years ago, not by a woman but by actor Adhyanen Suman. Adhyanen was witnessing the ugly public brawl between Hrithik Roshan and Kangana Ranaut in 2016, which is when he had decided to first open up about his alleged harassment during courtship with one of today’s top actor, Kangana Ranaut.
However, people did not take him seriously, instead as per Adhyayen, he was humiliated even further in National Media for calling out a woman.
Since the time #MeToo allegations have started in India over past one month, Adhyayen’s father and the very talented Shekhar Suman decided to tweet about this issue once again, refreshing memories of all who did not believe or doubted his son’s version.
On 9th October, Senior Suman tweeted that arguably the #MeToo movement was started by Hrithik Roshan and Adhyayen Suman but they were vilified, abused and targeted just because they are Men and the predator was a woman. He also mocked the balance of Gender Equality.
Arguably,the # metoo movement was started by hrithik roshan n adhyayan suman but they were vilified abused n targeted just bcoz they are men n the predator was a https://t.co/4SpWOEVsh1 about gender equality!
— Shekhar Suman (@shekharsuman7) October 9, 2018
Shekhar was flooded with many tweets, this time largely people supporting the agony his son would have shared and also commenting on the need to recognise the harassment done to a man as well.
On the other hand, his son, Adhyanen, had not spoken again on this issue till last evening when he tweeted that a lot of people were asking him to share his #MeToo story. However, he said he regretted doing so two years ago when he was shamed and humiliated. He also said his parents had to listen to some obscene comments of National TV and he was labelled as a guy with a failed career.
A lot of people asking me to share my #metoo story..iam sorry but when I did that 2 years ago I was shamed and humiliated…my parents whom I love the most had to listen to some obscene things on National tv ..I was clearly told that a guy with a failed career doesn’t
— adhyayen suman (@AdhyayanSsuman) October 12, 2018
Have the right to share his pain full and dark experience.The handful of people who supported me I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. And I am happy that at lest this moment is giving a chance to all the people who have had to #MeToo
— adhyayen suman (@AdhyayanSsuman) October 12, 2018
Suppress thier dark and depressing experiences for so long ..I hope all these people at least get their closure without being judged the way I was! #MeToo
— adhyayen suman (@AdhyayanSsuman) October 12, 2018
This time round though, we saw very few or almost nil comments questioning Adhyayen narrating his trauma.
Deepika Bhardwaj, a woman who believes in bringing out suppressed versions from the Men’s side and an Activist who is demanding a Men’s Commission in India immediately shared her support for Adhyayen.
When @AdhyayanSsuman opened up about his terrible experience with ex-gf Kangana Ranaut just to find a closure, entire feminist jamaat, news media, twitter #MeToo champions slammed him, his professional failure n ridiculed his father too. Just cuz a man spoke up against a woman
— Deepika Bhardwaj (@DeepikaBhardwaj) October 12, 2018
There were several others on his timeline who urged him to speak up once again so that world can believe that a man can be harassed as well.
Plzzz for godsake Adhyayan do it again.. for hundreds of men who are not coming out.. we have your back bro.
— Gsaini (@soul_in_search) October 12, 2018
I had believed you from the day I had read that article.. so sorry you have to go through all of that.
— Prashant Bajpai (@prashantsrk) October 12, 2018
#MeToo is not just about women it's about every gender who went through unethical practices.
People have realised Kangna Ranaut is hard core criminal. she is in Bollywood only to bully actors . She is good at playing outsider card women card nationalist card and sympathy card
— Exposing Liars (@indiRealMadrid) October 12, 2018
— Vikas Malik 🇮🇳 (@TheHaryanavi) October 12, 2018
They treated him like crap, but time has proven he was right. She is just as dirty and abusive as the worst man can be. #BoycottKanganaRanaut
— Criticus Expertus❌ (@CriticusE) October 12, 2018
Adhyanen Suman’s Interview to DNA in April 2016
The actor was approached for his byte on the on-going Hrithik-Kangana spat and thus the newspaper daily had approached him in 2016. As per reports, he was hesitant to talk. It took a lot of convincing to get him to open up. But once he started speaking, the anger, the hurt, the frustration and the feeling of helplessness that he suffered during their time together, all came pouring out. All he wanted was closure.
For seven years, he had kept his silence, and his fear now is that it shouldn’t be seen that he was talking publicity. Because had he wanted that, he would have spoken a long time ago. Instead, he changed his number and even left the country. His parents were concerned whether talking will reopen the old wounds and traumatise him again. Finally Adhyayen opened up about what he went through as a 20-year-old young boy his relationship with the actress Kangana Ranaut and how that shaped him.
In this Hrithik-Kangana legal battle, with whom do your sympathies lie?
With Hrithik. I felt a sense of déjà vu as I could identify completely with what’s happening to him. I can understand the pain that he is going through. I have been there. It’s not about physical pain, but how emotionally tortured you feel. I feel like now, I have to speak for people to know the truth. I thought about it a lot in the last 24 hours, since you first called me. But then I decided to talk. I am not doing this to hamper Kangana’s career or stardom as she might feel. I just feel that you should not try to make yourself sound innocent at someone else’s expense. There are other people who have suffered too, for a very long time emotionally and in their respective careers and they weren’t able to move on because she created a perception for them which was fake. Today, I have come out of it. I want people to know that this is my last interview on her. I beg people to not link me to her ever again. My speaking out is coming from a very emotional space and I don’t want to go there again. It’s taken me a lot of effort to come out of this and now I am on the brink of a new beginning and a beautiful life from now on. The news channels are talking about me and Kangana again. You know how reluctant I was to talk on this as I felt that even if I speak, would people believe me.
What made you change your mind?
In Jashn, there’s a dialogue: Zillat ki itni baarish ho chuki hai hum par, ke ab hum kuch dhool se gaye hai… Aur waise bhi ek bheega hua aadmi barsaat se kyon darein? Today, I have nothing to lose. The fact is, I feel bad for Hrithik. The experience of going through something like this is harrowing.
I hope the truth comes out. My sympathies are majorly with him and his family. I can imagine what they must be going through. I am not taking sides or saying that he’s right and she’s wrong, but I feel someone should speak up for Hrithik. It doesn’t come from a space where I will be doing a film with him tomorrow (laughs) and I am sure neither is he going to produce my film, but this is for people who will start commenting on social media — I don’t want anything from Hrithik. I want to work hard on my own.
Was it tough moving on?
My father always told me to forgive and move on. Today, I am happy she’s done well for herself, but if you’d asked me earlier if I was happy for her success, I would have said no, as I was going through too much then. It’s only human. I was down in the dumps. Today, I am a new person. I am grateful to God and my parents because of whom I’ve met a friend who is the nicest person that I have ever met. This is the most beautiful phase of my life.
Tell me about how it all started
In 2008 while shooting for the O Jaana song for Raaz 2, we started getting close. We used to go for drives and dinners. One day I took her for dinner at The Taj. I was immature as any 20-year-old and we got into an argument about our exes (hers was Aditya Pancholi) when she got angry and created a scene. She said she was going to the restroom. I waited for an hour then I called her. She told me she was at home. I didn’t understand at that time that there was something eccentric about her behaviour. I was like chalo theek hai…
The next morning when I went to her Lokhandwala home to say “sorry’ with flowers, she didn’t let me in. She told me, “F*** off! It’s over.” Dad called her and she said, “I won’t let him in, Sir. Please tell him to go.” She made me beg for a very long time. I waited for five hours on her steps. I was doing things I never thought I would do. She got me to shave my hair off while attending the Filmfare awards. I didn’t question it. My hair never looked uglier but she felt I needed a new style. And then on the stage she thanked everyone for the award. The camera was on me for a very long time but she didn’t mention me. She was walking ahead and I was walking behind her like her bodyguard. It was humiliating.
Did anybody caution you about dating her?
Haal-E-Dil was releasing and she had come for the premiere. I remember Aditya Pancholi was standing at the exit and Kangana was just walking out. He stopped me, looked into my eyes and said, “Welcome to the circus my friend and all the best!” I didn’t understand at that time. Kangana clarified saying that Aditya did that to intimidate people with her. I told her I am not scared because we are not doing anything wrong. At the time we were getting to know each other, but we hadn’t made it public.
When did it become public?
A month into our relationship. We were shooting a song in South Africa, when I got a call from a journalist asking me if I was dating Kangana. I denied it saying she was just a friend, however clichéd it sounded. The journalist told me he had found out that I went to her room at night. I told him that it was wrong to talk about a woman like that. I hung up and she began screaming that, ‘You are trying to hide the fact that you are seeing me! “You think I am just your f*** buddy?”
She made me call back the journalist and tell him how much I loved her etc. I hung up and told her that I’d given him a quote from my side, what about a quote from her? I said tell him that you love me also because otherwise it will sound one-sided. She didn’t do that and I wasn’t able to figure out why. I came back to Mumbai and saw the story splashed across all the papers about how I was besotted by her. I said to her this isn’t how it is. It was mutual. My father was furious. He felt the story should not have been one-sided.
There were many stories about how devoted you were to her…
Yes. I was with her in Bangkok when my father saw the first cut of Jashn on December 31, 2008 and he called me at night and got emotional. He said that he was very proud of my performance. He said when I came back I would have a surprise waiting for me on my birthday — January 13. On my birthday eve, at my home, dad called me down and gave me the keys to my dream car — a BMW 7Series. I was thrilled and touched when my dad gifted it to me! It wasn’t about a father spoiling his son, but a father who had seen the work of his son and was proud of him. I cried and hugged him. Kangana had left earlier as she didn’t want to face the media. I wanted to share my happiness with her and called her to tell her about my dad’s gift. She said coldly, “Achcha? Really? They gifted you a one crore car? Aisa kya ukhada tumne life mein?” This was when she had won a National Award for Best Supporting Actress for Fashion and had no work. I remember her frustration of not getting any work for four-five months. In less than a week’s time, she went to Hyderabad and called me to say, she’d signed the Telugu film Ek Niranjan with Prabhas. She came back and booked the same car dad had gifted me! She had no money so she went all the way to Hyderabad to sign the film and buy the car. Kangana couldn’t take it that I had a car, she couldn’t afford. There were stories in newspapers about how she had bought the same car as me, etc. This was two months before our break-up. Later, I sold off my car because of the pressure of failure.
Were you guys fighting a lot before the break-up?
Yes. I’d always see her eccentric behaviour as a woman’s emotions.But it started getting worse. One day when I was at her house, time, Bhattsaab called me after seeing the rushes of Raaz 2 and told me he loved my work and he would direct me. He quit directing by then, so I was like ‘Wow, that’s amazing!’ I was talking on speakerphone and she was hearing everything. She told me, “Behen**** mujhe koi kyun nahi phone kar rahe yaar?” That was the first time I heard her abuse. I was made to feel guilty and like shit for no reason. I realised that she wasn’t happy that the Bhatts had started giving me so much attention. I made sure that Mukeshji and Bhattsaab called her told her how good she was too.
What was the first shock that you got?
It was during the shooting of Kites. She got friendly with Hrithik and his wife. There were occasional dinners with them and I went for a few. Hrithik had invited Kangana for his birthday and he called me also. I brought flowers and an expensive champagne. We were sitting and talking when Hrithik walked in. She cut me abruptly, picked up my flowers and champagne and handed it to him saying, “Happy birthday! This is from me for you.” She didn’t even introduce me. She started networking and I was left alone with a drink in my hand. I was feeling really upset and left and I got a little high. One moment she made me feel loved and then in the next, it was like I was a nobody in her life! I was standing at the bar alone when Kangana walked up to me said some actor at the party was trying to grab her a**. I felt protective towards her but I was at someone’s house and creating a scene would be rude so I told her, ‘Let’s go.’ She went back to doing her thing. Later she came and told me let’s go right now. I was walking down the stairs with her, when she turned around and slapped me! She said, “Mother Fu***, behen****! Bh*sd*ke! You are f***** jealous of my success!” The intensity of the slap was so hard I was almost crying. That was the first time she got violent.
What did you do?
My only thought was: The entire media was outside. How am I going to get out and go? I was tearing up like a child and shivering at the violently abusive language. She told me to drop her home, and then in the car, she started hitting me. Eventually, I asked my driver to stop the car. I decided to take a rickshaw home. I was in the middle of the road crying and shouting at her, “You are crazy! F***** up!” And she was abusing me MC/BC gaalis. My family driver of 20 years came crying to me and said, mere liye thoda sa bhi pyar hai toh ghar chalo. I will never forget that night. I dropped her home and she picked up her stiletto and threw it at me! I picked up my phone and smashed it against the wall. I didn’t know how to vent my anger. That was the start of her physical violence with me.
What happened next?
The next day we had a press meet for Raaz 2 at my building. Kangana said she wouldn’t come. Our PR started panicking but then she turned up. I took held her hand and said, “Baby I am so sorry. I love you.” She slapped me hard, again. I was just zapped! I was crying like a kid… and then the entire rant and MC/BC gaalis began. I realised then that she’d made up the whole thing about the actor trying to grab her a**. She said that just to f*** my mind with these mind games. To the waiting media, even though I felt like a complete a**hole I gave an interview saying, ‘She was one of the most beautiful actresses that we have in the country today and a huge star.’ In her interview she mocked me and said I was the most spoiled brat that she knew who didn’t come to sets on time etc. I just laughed it off like a joke, I had no other option. I had just come out after being physically abused and emotionally tortured I had to praise her and hear things about how I didn’t want to work etc. It was traumatising. On her birthday in March 2008 at The Leela, she had invited everybody that she had worked with. She said “Let’s do cocaine in the night.” I had smoked hash with her a couple of times before and didn’t like it so I said no. I remember getting into the biggest argument that night because I said no to cocaine.
Why did you take all this abuse?
Kangana had this amazing knack of manipulating my emotions and drawing me back. She took me to this tarot reader Sunita Menon who said we were meant to be together and that gave me confidence and strength to work at the relationship, even though I was going through shit. I hadn’t told my parents about this. If my father ever knew that she hit me, I can’t imagine his reaction. I stopped going home, and started living with her. I started drinking and smoking a lot. My relationship with my parents changed. I became defiant. The visit to Sunita happened right after we broke up. Kangana called me to her house and started crying. She said, “I cook for you and wash your clothes and how will I live without you?” That made me very emotional and we got back together.
Then it got worse?
Yes. On January 13, 2009, at my birthday party at home, after most people left, Mohit Suri, Kangana, Kunal Deshmukh, my parents and dad’s few close friends were talking about how actors sometimes tend to sell our souls for commercial films. Kangana started to get offended and said, ‘We don’t sell our souls’. Dad said he was giving a generic example but she took it personally and she called my father a b****** in front of everyone. My father was furious. She left screaming started screaming abuses at him in Hindi. One thing I can’t still forgive myself for — I was a bad son to my parents during that time. This one moment changed my life forever— the way she spoke to my father. But at the time, she had manipulated my mind so beautifully that rather than breaking up with her that night, I screamed at my father. I smashed things because I was losing my mind.
You defended her when she abused your father?
The way I spoke to my father that night is something I can never forget and forgive myself for. It makes me cry even today. I was starting to become someone else. I went to Kangana’s house that night and apologised for my dad’s behaviour and ended up spending the night with her. I didn’t go home for two days. Then dad started getting calls from the film fraternity Aditya Pancholi called my dad and said, “Shekharji kya ho raha hai? She’s crazy, a psycho and this has been her behaviour pattern. He was right as that was exactly her behaviour pattern with me. Aditya told my father that if he wanted he would speak to me but he should get me out of Kangana’s clutches as she would ruin me and by the time I realised it it would be too late for me..
She also tried to jeopardise your career?
People magazine wanted us on the cover. I learnt that she called the magazine editor and said she didn’t want to shoot with me, but with Imran Khan whose film Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na was a hit. I lost out on a couple of covers because of her. Rather than people talking about my successful film, media would write stories about me being besotted with her. My career suffered because of that.
What followed next?
Kangana took me to another astrologer called Pallavi who always gave positive news to Kangana and negative ones to me. She said my time wasn’t right and if I did certain pujas I would be fine. I didn’t believe in all this but Kangana insisted I listen to her. One day, Kangana called me at home in the night to do some puja. I reached at 11.30 pm as the puja was to start at 12. She had a small guest room in her apartment and she had covered it in black, including black curtains. There were some random statues of God, fire all around, some scary things (kept) puja. She asked me to chant some mantras, and locked me in. I was terrified. I didn’t do it and I came out and told her that I had. Then she started taking me to Pallavi frequently. One day, Pallavi said go to the graveyard at 12 am and throw these certain things. I was chilled to the bone! I didn’t go.
Are you talking about black magic?
Yes. Being a metropolitan kid studying in London and New York, I was always away from things like astrology and black magic. I remember going to my Tarot reader after she started making me doing pujas. She told me she sensed a woman from pahadi region doing black magic on me. I knew only one person back then, my girlfriend Kangana, who used to go to Himachal for certain pujas there. My Tarot reader said she saw something really bad happening and warned me to get out of the relationship. She told me, “You feel you want to come out of it and every time you make a decision of wanting to come out, you fail and are back at it again.” My career stopped completely. I had a successful film Raaz 2 behind me but nobody wanted to talk about me. I started seeing this decline. My films were shutting down while she was achieving more success. Even talking about it scares me now….
What happened after this?
My mother was very worried and she called the family’s Panditji to come home and meet me. The first thing he asked me was: “Khana banati hai tumhare liye?” When I said yes, he said, “Apna impure blood milati hai khaane mein black magic ke liye.” I didn’t want to accept anything against her. I would tell people who said anything negative about her to f*** off. The physical violence had become so frequent in my relationship with her that any other guy would have hit her back. But I couldn’t. Every time I was hit, I wanted to retaliate but my hands would just stop. I was scared as hell. I would cry to my PR every single night. I would drive down Marine Drive with a bottle of scotch on my lap, drunk. I got into a phase where I could not accept reality and thought it was better to be perpetually drunk all the time. I had reached a stage where I would have either died because of an overdose of alcohol or gone mental. My mom prayed a lot for me. The same Pandit later on came on Salman’s Dus Ka Dum also and he looked at Kangana in the middle of the show and said “Aap Pisachini (demoness) hai.” She treated it as if it was a joke. It’s there on national TV.
Please go on.
In one of his interviews, my father was asked a question on Kangana and he said “She was a senior actress” but not in a derogatory way. We were headed to an event when she started abusing my father in filthy language. That day something snapped in me. Hearing her abuse my father and still being by her side every night was something that shamed me. After we split, it took me five years to get over that guilt. I was a bad kid to my parents and that’s something I can’t forgive myself for. Everything else was a learning experience. I remember Kangana physically abusing me in the car again. When we reached the hotel, in front of the media she was so normal. It was like interacting with a split personality. On one hand it was MC/BC and on the other it was ‘Baby I love you so much.’
It was around this time you learned about her texts to Hrithik?
She gave me her phone’s old chip to transfer to her new phone. While doing that I saw her inbox was all empty — which was okay as it was a new phone — but there were 50-70 messages to Hrithik Roshan.I knew she was eyeing him from back then, from the time she went to Las Vegas for Kites. Hrithik had hurt his arm and she had gone to see him. I knew her desperation to get to know him well. I asked her about these messages. She said that he was her co-star and she had to talk to him like that. She made me believe that all those texts to him were casual. And I could believe that because whenever I met Hrithik and her together, he always maintained his distance. As a guy you can see it when there’s something brewing between two people especially when they are drinking and the masks come off. I never saw any feelings from his side. So, these stories about Kangana’s obsession with him had begun back then of her wanting to get him. Those messages made me realise that I had to get out of this relationship and fast. Every time she had to put her point across she would get physically abusive. She dominated me to a level where I couldn’t make a decision for myself. My parents would feel very embarrassed and yet my mom, seeing my mental state, would go and beg Kangana asking her to patch up with me after every fight. I have realised our parents are the most important people in our lives. They would do anything for you. Their selfless love has made me come back to what I was.
So when did you finally break up?
My father was getting into politics. She started imagining that dad wanted her to campaign for him. I said to her, ‘Are you out of your mind?’ Then she started abusing my dad. She said “Tumhara pura khandaan mere stardom ko use karna chahta hai?” She was talking about a man whose been in this industry for 25 years, seen so much stardom of his own and has so much love, support and goodwill in the industry. Why would he need her? I came back to my house and she messaged me something again about my father. That was it. I messaged her back “Now you can f*** off. It’s over between us.” She felt it was one of those break-ups where we’d get back together. Exactly one year after we started dating, we finally broke up. I told her never to call or message me again. I made sure I never crossed paths with her again. I haven’t seen her for seven years, not been in same room, at an event or anywhere. The last conversation we had was when she called to tell me I had left some clothes behind. I told her to give it to charity. It took me five years to get over the whole thing. I lost five years of my precious time, I lost out on relationships as people hated me because I was with her. They felt I wasn’t the same person anymore. Only my friend Sonu understood the space I was in and supported me all through this hell. I took off to NYC after that. I would pass my time staring at the ceiling, eating food, because of which I put on 25 kgs, and crying.
Why didn’t you talk about your break-up then?
I couldn’t. I was depressed. She was telling people how I suddenly broke up one day and was getting the sympathy. I didn’t have the energy. I was too weak to defend myself and thought no one will want to believe me. The entire feeling of being called a loser, and people calling me “Kangana’s boyfriend”, had taken its toll and robbed me of my confidence. Then it became all about how I had used her. But people called me and said, “Dude it was a very simple plan. She wanted respectability as she came out of an extra-marital affair and she wanted to get hooked to someone from a respectable Bollywood family. And the moment she got success she would be out from your life in a jiffy.” That’s exactly what happened. She wasn’t even a star when I met and we started dating. It was me who came from a star background so who used who?
If a Movement like #MeToo is spreading globally, should it not be Gender Neutral?