The #MeToo movement has gained traction in India, with several women gathering up the courage to speak up against sexual perpetrators. Several popular faces have been named and shamed until now, including celebrated people from the fields of acting, filmmaking, writing, journalism and many more. Author and managing partner of consultancy firm Counselage India,Suhel Seth, was recently accused of sexual harassment by three women, including filmmaker Natashja Rathore, journalist Mandakini Gahlot and writer Ishita Yadav. Another minor too accused him, who has kept her identity anonymous. Encouraged by the courage shown by these women, author Ira Tridevi too called out at authors Chetan Bhagat and Suhel Seth.
Speaking to Republic TV, Ira Trivedi said, "I have just called out Suhel Seth and Chetan Bhagat for behaving inappropriately with me over the past decade. I have called out these stories so that they do no do the same with many other young women. As I mentioned, I have known both of these men for a long time and I have been an observer to their bad behaviour. I have experienced it myself and I believe that no other woman should go through it. I thank all the women who have come before me, the women who have called out Suhel Seth and Chetan Bhagat in the first place. Because it is these women who gave me the platform and path to speak. Thank you so much and I encourage all women to come forward with their MeToo stories."
Ira recently shared her #MeToo story about Chetan Bhagat and Suhel Seth through an online news portal. She said that she met Chetan Bhagat a decade ago at the Jaipur Literature Festival. She recalled that Bhagat asked her what she would do if a man made a pass at her at a book launch. To this, a 22-year-old Ira said that she would kiss him if he bought 100 of her books and would marry if he bought all of them. She wrote that a few weeks later, he invited her to tea at the India International Centre.He asked her to come to his room, but she suggested they meet in the tea-room. After tea, she wrote that he asked her to come up to his room on the pretext of giving her a signed copy of his book.
She alleged that he made a pass at her in the room and tried to plant a kiss on her lips and then she laughed, not knowing what else to do. When she asked him what he is trying to do, he coyly said that he had purchased 100 of her books and donated them to a library in Pune, "so a kiss was his prerogative," she wrote. Ira said that she was shaken after this uncalled behaviour.
However, she said that they continued to remain friends , but avoided meeting alone. Sharing another incident of Chetan groping her friend, she said that he made several "inappropriate passes physically and verbally" at her. When Ira confronted Chetan over this, he told her that it was the other way round and that she had a "bad reputation".
Talking about Suhel Seth, she wrote that he once commented on the size of her breasts, saying that she shouldn't wear a bra, another time he asked her if she had waxed her legs or not, and once at another literature festival under the effect of alcohol, he made several throwaway comments about her “sexy yoga poses” on TV.
She further wrote, "Intoxicated, Suhel also became too familiar with me and other women – putting his arms around our waists at parties, holding us a second longer than necessary after a self-imposed hug, planting one on our cheeks or lips when you least expected it. Over time his leering smile, his ribald jokes, the lewd confidence in his voice and step made my stomach churn."