The man I'm about to address here, has been applauded (with good reason - let's give credit where credit is due, shall we?) for brilliant opening statements and crafty monologues. So I find no shame in lashing out with one of my own. An opening statement, that is.

Dear Tanmay,

The worst thing that you can possibly say when being accused of complicity in a sexual harassment suit, is "I should have been stronger". #FACEPALM

India MeToo Tanmay Bhat AIB Open Letter
Photo of FACEPALM by Ben White / for The Times Blog, via Unsplash

You, sir, have generated more social outrage than any other internet celebrity I know of. You have lived up to the expectations of your... (I'm failing to find a word here. I'm inclined to say 'followers' or 'fans', but for some reason the only image that strikes my head is a bell icon, and the only word I can use, is 'subscribers')... your subscribers, going above and beyond at times; You've spoken up, all bright-eyed, about fat-shaming, about your tryst with Keto.. You have even made fun of people who dared to make fun of you! And we (viz-a-viz, your subscribers) have consumed all of that with great... shall we say humor? But I find it hard, bitter, and downright insulting when it comes to accepting a statement like 'I should have been stronger'. No, that's not the answer we were looking for. The answer we wanted, was 'I should have stopped people from being jerks around me! I should not have participated in a clear abuse of power on behalf of an organization that has been inspirational, to say the least, to content creators all over India!' And I am afraid, that this one act of yours is probably enough to turn the tides on the stream of internet content creation that young India had so painfully begun to accept and experience, and draw the curtains on what could have been one of the greatest movements of this generation.

That's right Tanmay, you and your team represented an entire movement.

We, your audience.. sorry, subscribers - I keep forgetting just how transactional you've made this industry - had great expectations from you. I cannot begin to say what that recent promo for 'On Air With AIB' meant to me, personally. You embodied the image of a true rebel, and your content always resonated that sentiment. When the world debated over that fateful evening with the roast, we stood by your side, not loud-mouthed on social media - not the way you so evidently despise, but by being tasteful consumers. We were happy that there were people like you out there in the meaningful social stratosphere, making waves.

And now look what you've done! You've gone out there and gotten the entire show cancelled!

Note for our readers - This is what Team AIB officially said in response to the allegations:

And this is probably the most APT[1] response to Tanmay's tweets so far, again, by one of AIB's subscribers:

India MeToo Tanmay Bhat AIB Open Letter

That, in fact sums it up beautifully.

I REFUSE to take you seriously any longer.

And to be perfectly candid and forthcoming, this is not outrage driven by the afterglow of a rival's fall from grace. I never considered you a rival. I and my peers always thought of you as 'god' - so much so, that I'm using the word 'god' in a publication where I swore I'd never mention religion. This is pure and unadulterated remorse at the fact that one of our idols has fallen, so badly. I was surprised and shocked about all the other allegations that have been doing the rounds lately, and a few of them even made me squint and frown a little bit, but you? Your involvememt in your colleague's rampant exploitation of innocent content-creation aspirants has shaken the content creator in me to a point where I had to pen this down.

That being said, I'm very happy that Indian women are FINALLY speaking up about the things that matter. And I have to say this - There is probably a long, hard, painful, and miserable journey ahead of us, but this is the first step. I thank those who have spoken up, and urge those who haven't yet, to speak up as early as possible. Now is the time, because the dominos have started falling.

An author/publisher friend of mine once wrote a book called 'We need a revolution'. Nothing lives up to that promise as well as the times we are currently living through.

Sure, we can blame it on systematic apathy pushed into our thought process via years of oppression and abuse (I was SHOCKED and APALLED and positively MAD when I found a Zee News Headline dating back to 2008 that said Nana Patekar 'gives it back'...), and yes, the industry has been poisoned with the notion that good content creators somehow need to pay an additional 'price' to be heard or seen, but if we are to believe in the Darwinian notion of only the fittest being able to survive, then we must apply the same casting logic that these filthy casting directors, producers, talent scouts and content managers have employed for so long.

Not FIT.

That's the verdict. More on this as the case gets further investigated. I invite responses to editor@thetimesblog.com.

  1. Quartz - https://qz.com/india/1416948/metoo-india-aibs-tanmay-bhat-hindustan-times-journalist-quit/ ↩︎