#MeToo in Bollywood: Netflix Moves Ahead with 'Sacred Games' Second Season After Investigation

Courtesy of Netflix
Saif Ali Khan in 'Sacred Games'

The show's future was in question when sexual misconduct allegations surfaced against Vikas Bahl, one of the co-founders of the recently dissolved Phantom Films, which co-produced the show.

Netflix is moving ahead with the second season of its debut Indian original series, Sacred Games, following an independent investigation by the company regarding sexual misconduct allegations against two members connected with the show.

In a statement Tuesday, Netflix said: "After an independent investigation, the results helped inform Netflix’s decision to continue with Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap on season two of Sacred Games. We continue to collaborate with our production partners to ensure and maintain a safe and respectful working environment."

Earlier this month, Vikas Bahl, one of the co-founders of Phantom Films, which co-produced Sacred Games, was accused of sexual misconduct. Bahl wasn't credited as a producer on the show, which was co-directed by Phantom's other founders Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane. A day before the allegations against Bahl were reported by the Huffington Post, Phantom's founders said they were dissolving the company without citing a reason.

In the HuffPo story, an unnamed former female employee of Phantom, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was sexually assaulted by Bahl in 2015 after a wrap party in Goa. The woman said Bahl insisted on dropping her to her hotel room late in the night after the party ended and pretended to pass out drunk on her bed. She alleges she was awakened soon after and found Bahl masturbating on her.

Following the HuffPo story, Kashyap issued a lengthy two-page statement saying, "I am deeply truly sorry to the woman in question and she has known this all the while. This will never happen again on my work premises ever again."

Kashyap explained that "according to the legal advice provided to me, we had very limited legal options. Now in hindsight and after taking stock of things myself, I can quite see how I was ill-advised."

Motwane also posted a statement and called Bahl a “sexual offender,” adding, “He has preyed on a young woman, abused her trust, ruined her life. The scars are going to stay and that just isn’t right. The only thing I can offer now is [an] apology."

Bahl denied the allegations and also sued Kashyap and Motwane for defamation. The case is currently being heard.

Allegations also surfaced against the Sacred Games' lead writer Varun Grover. An anonymous Twitter post accused Grover of "touching" a fellow female student inappropriately while he was at university in 2001. In an open letter, Grover denied the charges and welcomed any inquiry into the matter.

Last month, Netflix had confirmed that it was going ahead with the second season of Sacred Games but the subsequent allegations against Bahl and Grover had seemed to put a question over its future. Following the accusations against Bahl and the dissolution of Phantom, when asked by THR about the show's future, Netflix had said, "At this time we are evaluating options on the path forward."

Sacred Games is headlined by Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan, who plays a Mumbai cop battling a notorious gangster played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui. The show is based on the acclaimed book of the same name by Vikram Chandra.

In recent weeks, India's #MeToo movement has been gathering steam with a host of accusations against leading celebrities, which has led to some projects being put on hold. These include the in-production Bollywood remake of The Fault in Our Stars, whose director Mukesh Chhabra was accused of sexual misconduct. This led the film's producer, Fox Star Studios India, to suspend him from the production pending an investigation.