The entertaining and well-appreciated mockumentary web-series ‘Better Life Foundation’ had its second season streaming on Hotstar. Amidst allegations of sexual harassment against actor and comedian Utsav Chakraborty, who is part of the cast of BLF, Hotstar recently took down the streaming of BLF 2.
The series directed by Debbie Rao and created by Naveen Richard is now put off the radar and will apparently not see a new season too (in case it was in the process of being made).
Writers and actors Naveen Richard and Sumukhi Suresh who are also part of the cast of BLF 2 recently took to Instagram and put out a statement addressing the issue and also stated that this decision of pulling off BLF 2, for one person’s issues regarding sexual misconduct has in fact affected the entire cast and crew of the series.
We at IWMBuzz.com spoke at length to Naveen Richard to know more on his thought process and his understanding given the situation that his series has been put into.
Expressing his disappointment on how the decision has affected many people, Naveen categorically states, “In our case it is just because of one person whose behaviour off the show and off our personal life, and actually on an online medium that we couldn’t have possibly seen. I don’t see how it is setting an example. It would have set an example if we hire someone who is known as a sexual harasser, and we hire him even when we know of it. The mature way to do it is to stop working with such people and see to it that the person does not get anymore work. That’s enough punishment.”
Naveen goes on to explain the effect of damage the decision has caused as he says, “Basically whoever outside is demanding for the show to be taken down does not realize the number of people employed in a work. There are a good 70 people employed on this project, all of whom have put in several months of work. It is not fair on them. The only reason why they worked for seven months on the show is to see the show being online for the rest of their lives. No other platform has done this. No other show other than BLF has been taken down.”
He continues, “I don’t think taking down a show proves anything. It wasn’t a thought-out move by Hotstar.”
Ask Naveen on the consequences of this #MeToo movement and he says, “First of all, we cannot work with him anymore. We can only hope that in any future project where we see any slight hint of some sort of sexual misconduct, we enquire into it before starting work. But if there is nothing at all, we can only continue to work. It is good that this movement is happening. All of the online posts and bringing out names are justified. But I don’t see any of Alok Nath’s films on Hotstar being taken down. Also Hotstar has many movies produced by Harvey Weinstein and they are still on. If Hotstar really believes that taking down a show is in solidarity with the cause, they should do it to everyone. Otherwise it is just being unfair. It means they don’t really believe that this is the right move. It means it is just a knee-jerk reaction. It they really believed it, they would have applied the same evenly to all shows.”
Ask him about the chances of seeing BLF 2 elsewhere and he states, “Hotstar took off Season 1 and Season 2 of BLF. I don’t know what the solution to this will be. As far as I can think right now, I want Hotstar to be accountable for its action. And the action is one that undermines the work of dozens of people who have been part of the project. I want them to be answerable to all the women who have put their name on the show, and given months of dedicated work. Honestly, they don’t have any idea on the amount of hard work gone into the show. For them, it is just one show that they have made. They need to empathize with all, especially our Director Debbie for the sleepless nights she has put in. Is it fair to punish all of us for something that we did not even know about?”
On not getting a response from Hotstar for the statement released by them, Naveen explains, “They have been quiet and have ignored our statement. They went on to put up tweets
on Karan Johar’s interview of Deepika Padukone on the same day we released our statement. But they did not reply to our statement. If they really believed in the cause, they would have defended their action. But they have not defended either. We want them to either defend their act or act evenly by pulling down all other shows. If you see the fans’ reactions, they have also been tweeting about this unfair decision that they have made.”
We messaged the spokesperson at Hotstar to get their side and response on the decision of taking off the airing of BLF 2, but could not get response till we filed the story.
Only time will tell how this #MeToo movement will shape up and to what extent its repercussions will be!!