All it took was a daring interview to stand up against the mammoth tinsel town and actress Payal Ghosh was all over the news for her sensational statements against one of the most prolific filmmakers of the industry – Anurag Kashyap.
The controversy, which began as a ‘MeToo’ allegation, transitioned into a defamation case, and concluded with Ghosh entering politics under the Republican Party of India (A), as the vice president of its women’s wing.
Payal spoke to The Free Press Journal's Oshin Fernandes about how her life changed post the incident and what she’s up to these days with her workspace coinciding as a politician and as an actress.
You recently joined the Republican Party of India (A) as the vice president of its women’s wing. What has been your experience in politics so far?
I have studied political science; it gives you a theoretical understanding of the subject. But going out and doing it gives you a completely different experience. I felt very good. I came to know many things which I was not much aware of. I am learning and will try to learn as much as I can about the people in politics and the people who are working on the field.
What kind of plans do you have for the social welfare of women?
I have jotted down a few points for the social welfare of women and I have discussed it with my party members. I will also meet Athawale Sir (Ramdas Athawale) and see how practical it is. I will also ask him to raise it in the next parliament session. I’d like to make karate a mandatory subject for every girl.
After being inducted in the RPI, Mr Athawale tested positive for COVID-19, and many fingers were pointed at you for not wearing a mask properly. Would you like to add or clarify on what really happened?
Athawale Sir keeps travelling and that time also I think he had just arrived from Uttar Pradesh. He may have caught the infection there because none of our party members present that day were infected including myself. When it comes to wearing masks, I must say that I cannot wear the mask completely because I feel suffocated, shortness of breath. More than COVID-19, I will probably die of suffocation if I wear the mask and cover my nose.
You are known to be a firebrand and speak your mind. What is your take on the constant trolling you received while speaking about Bollywood on social media? Some pointed out your evidence didn’t prove anything concrete.
I have never been trolled, actually, now Bollywood is getting trolled left and right. Whatever I feel, right or wrong, I will talk about it. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make others happy. What I feel is my opinion, I would like to say it. As for the Anurag Kashyap case, there is a lot of evidence given to police, but they say because it is an old case so it is taking time but don’t worry justice will be delivered.
What are your views about the #Metoo movement and where do you think it stands today?
#MeToo Movement in India is not successful. Many actresses who came forward and talked about it haven’t got justice. In fact, men were given clean chit because of a lack of evidence. You cannot give evidence of rape. From where will we get the evidence of harassment unless there is some camera or one gathers evidence via a sting operation. This is the reason it has failed. Only talking about it achieved nothing and just made men stronger because we live in a male-dominated society. When you come out and talk about it, people say this is for publicity. No one will go back and see how that girl may have suffered, and wasted her years.
Apparently, there’s an old tweet by you regarding MeToo from 2018 which reads, “Nobody rape here, they try to take chance if you are not comfortable, walk away as simple, no need to make so much drama.” – Can you share your views on this?
I was forced to write that tweet. I was originally writing about the incident that happened to me, then my manager thought it won’t be right. You cannot talk against the industry because ‘darr jayenge tumse aur kaam nahi denge, toh tum maat bolo [people will get scared and won't give you any work, so don't write]. Write a simple tweet and say nobody does anything here. Don’t say that they’re good people, but say that no one forces you’. In 2018, I had shared several tweets which I was forced to delete. I shared the screenshot later, but nobody is talking about that.
How would you describe Bollywood amid the insider-outsider debate, especially now that you have ruffled many feathers? Has this controversy affected your workspace?
I never said Bollywood is bad because I myself was a big fan since my childhood. But when I came here to work, I felt the kind of differentiation they do among outsiders and insiders. We are just talking against that. There are some kind of approaches that need to change. We just want that and then we can be more professional other than just being emotional and getting into families. If anybody deserves something, they should get it. I have many Bollywood film offers and if people are intelligent enough then whatever I say they will understand and not take it personally.
Can you tell us the status of your complaint against Anurag Kashyap?
I have already given evidence to the police; we are also trying to find out more things from their sources. The police have said that ‘once we gather at least a little bit of it we will start taking action against it. We know very well what is the truth and what not so you don’t have to worry. We’re just trying to get more evidence because today if we arrest him tomorrow you will have to place this evidence before the court’.
Are you working on any projects in the entertainment industry? Can you tell us about them?
I am working on a Hindi film called ‘Red’ where I will be sharing screen space with Krushna Abhishek. I am also working on a bunch of Hindi and south-Indian films.