Director Vikas Bahl has allegedly been accused of sexually harassing a female employee of Phantom Films, the company he co-owns, reports Mumbai Mirror. Mr Bahl, best-known for directing Queen, disputes the allegations. Mumbai Mirror also reports that Vikas Bahl has been sacked from Phantom Films – he denies this as well. Mr Bahl, who owns the company with Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane and Madhu Mantena, is accused of harassing the female employee in Goa. He denies that the woman who has made the allegation is an employee at all. Mumbai Mirror quotes a partner, on condition of anonymity, as saying, “We (Reliance Entertainment, who own 50 per cent shares of company, and Phantom Films) have taken a hard stand, based on what we have heard and investigated.” The report also claims that Vikas Bahl was asked to leave on March 28 and a committee has been set up per Vishakha guidelines to investigate the claims of alleged sexual misconduct.
Countering the allegations, Mr Bahl told Mumbai Mirror: “Nothing has happened. I am running the company. There is no complaint to HR and there is no Vishakha committee.” Meanwhile, the partner also said: “The decision needed to be taken because it was getting too much. There are not one, two or three but multiple victims. He has behaved badly in the past as well but when this specific complaint came, we needed to act on it.”
Of the alleged sexual misconduct on his part, Mr Bahl said: “I have heard about this particular lady you are speaking about and the Goa incident. She is not my employee. Yes, I am friends with her, we have worked together and there is a production job we have done together…but if she is feeling like this I would like to sit across a table from her and talk to her. I want to ask her if I have crossed a line, whether I have done anything to hurt her and if she feels that way I would like to apologise for it. I have known her for long. For two-and-ahalf years she has never made me feel as if she is uncomfortable (around me). I have worked very hard to be the person I have become. I do feel a little victimised but I don’t know what to do about that.”
Vikas Bahl also told Mumbai Mirror that Phantom Films is like a family. “People really like me. I don’t know why anyone would stoop to this level. Phantom Films is like my family. I gave up a huge job to start this company. My shares in Phantom are equal to the others. We are equal partners and best friends,” he said.
Vikas Bahl last directed Alia Bhatt and Shahid Kapoor in Shaandaar.