The police said they expected more victims to come forward with the registration of the FIR.
Two weeks after allegations of sexual harassment against him surfaced on social media, an FIR has been lodged against The Viral Fever (TVF) founder Arunabh Kumar. The complaint was filed on Tuesday evening by a director who had worked with TVF on two shows. Earlier, in a Facebook post, the director had alleged that Kumar had “found various ways to inappropriately touch her” when she was working with Kumar at the TVF office last year. According to police sources, the statement was recorded after a detailed chat with senior officers at the MIDC police station, in Andheri east, including the DCP and ACP. “An FIR has been registered against Kumar. The case is under investigation,” said senior inspector Shailesh Pasalwar. Kumar has been booked under sections 354 (molestation) and 509 (threatening).
Kumar’s fall from grace began when an ex-TVF employee, who identified herself as The Indian Fowler (the name references Susan According to Indian Fowler’s post, Kumar would often call her back to office in the evenings on the pretext that she had not completed her day’s work, and proposition her.
The survivor has on her Facebook page accused Kumar of touching her inappropriately during a shoot.
In her post, the writer-director has written: “I was shooting with him (Kumar) in the TVF office…The first time we met at the recce, he asked me to send him my work. When we met on the day of the shoot, I asked him if he had seen the links. To this he said ‘why don’t you come over to my place and we can watch them together. We can also watch a movie. Which movie do you want to watch?’ I politely evaded the question and continued briefing him about the shoot. As I talked, he placed his hand on my hand. In the middle of the shoot, he touched my shoulder tattoo and tells me he finds it sexy. After every other shot, he would come over to the monitor to see how the shot looked, but at the same time graze his hand against my waist.”
The victim raised the matter with her superior. “I remember telling my producer how creepy it was and how I couldn’t wait for the shoot to be over. My producer made sure I wasn’t alone with Arunabh Kumar for the rest of the shoot. I also told someone at the agency about it. Do I wish I had retaliated immediately? Yes. I didn’t because the agency and the client would have both suffered. In hindsight, that was wrong and I am sure they would have supported my decision. But today, I had to choose between keeping quiet and extending my support to a girl who has bravely spoken up. So I am choosing to do the right thing. TVF can release as many ‘official responses’ rubbishing these claims as they would like. This is my truth,” she has mentioned in her social media post.
After Indian Fowler’s post went viral, several other women shared similar stories of being sexually harassed by Kumar. The director who filed the complaint yesterday wrote on Facebook about how, during a shoot, Kumar “would come over to the monitor to see how the shot looks, but at the same time graze his hand against my waist. All this in a 5-hour shoot.”
When Mumbai Mirror spoke to Kumar after the allegations surfaced, he said, “ I am a heterosexual, single man and when I find a woman sexy, I tell her she’s sexy. I compliment women. Is that wrong?” He dismissed the allegations as baseless, and said that if they were true, the women, who claimed to have been sexually harassed by him, should file a police complaint.
According to the police, Kumar has been untraceable few days. According to an officer, who did not wish to be named, their efforts at reaching him had been unsuccessful. Kumar, a graduate of IIT Kharagpur, set up The Viral Fever in 2010, and the company produces online shows such as the popular TVF Pitchers and Permanent Roommates. J Fowler, the Uber employee who alleged workplace sexual harassment recently), wrote a piece titled The Indian Uber- That is TVF on the online blog Medium.