Balekempa director Ere Gowda accused of sexual misconduct; producers withdraw movie from Jio MAMI 20th Film Festival

FP Staff

October 24, 2018 08:22:28 IST

Editor's note: Following Rituparna Chatterjee's report — Is India’s #MeToo moment here? Women are angry and they are naming and shaming their abusers — Firstpost will publish a series of articles collating personal accounts of those who have made allegations of harassment, along with responses from those who have been accused of such behaviour. This is an ongoing exercise and will be updated to reflect new developments. If you wish to draw our attention to instances of harassment you may have experienced or witnessed, tweet to us @firstpost with the hashtag #MeToo.

Kannada filmmaker Ere Gowda has been accused of sexual misconduct by an anonymous individual on social media. One of his former colleagues has posted a detailed account of the misconduct in a post on Facebook, using the profile of another documentary filmmaker Ekta M. Firstpost has permission to reproduce the post:

The anonymous woman says she had met Gowda in the capacity of an aspiring filmmaker and immediately thought of him as a mentor. Soon after they met, the woman alleges, Gowda expressed a sexual attraction towards her. After this, she decided to speak to him and sort it out because she was not looking for romance but merely a mentor. Gowda reportedly understood her stance and after a few days asked her if she wanted to tag along to Byadarahalli, along with a sound recordist, to finish the on-site sound recording work for his upcoming film Balekempa.

It was there that, she alleges, Gowda forced himself on her, despite her repeatedly asking him to back off. He continued touching her inappropriately, she recounts. "But at that moment, I was petrified. Ere was tall and much stronger than me. I did not want to piss him off for I knew that I wouldn’t be able to fight him. My body had gone into survival mode."

After continuously trying to force himself on her, he asked if he could masturbate in front of her. "Some part of me was relieved. I thought that it is over. But he came back, pushed me down on the bed, got on my back and masturbated on me. By now, I was dead inside. Not a word or cry came out," she writes in the Facebook post.

She also revealed why she chose to talk about this now. "I was insecure. I did not want to be known for this. I wanted to be known first for my work. It took me a few months to process my feelings."

On 24 October afternoon, the official handle of Jio MAMI 20th Mumbai Film Festival on Twitter announced that the producers of Balekempa have withdrawn the film from the festival.

Earlier, the Dharamshala International Film Festival — which had previously announced Balekempa to be its closing film — also made an announcement saying that the film has been taken off the festival.

Firstpost has reached out to Gowda for a comment. The report will be updated when he responds.

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Network 18, of which Firstpost is a part, has received complaints of sexual harassment as well. The complaints which are within the purview of the workplace have been forwarded to our PoSH committee for appropriate action.

Updated Date: Oct 24, 2018 13:38 PM