Yet another ‘Me Too’ scandal has emerged in the academia after a theatre student Angela Mondal accused playwright and poet Sudipto Chatterjee of sexually harassing her during a rehearsal. Chatterjee has taught at esteemed educational institutions across the world like New York University, University of California, Berkeley, Tufts University in the US as well as India’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.
In a Facebook post, Angela Mondal has written a detailed account of turn of events where she was allegedly subjected to sexual harassment by Chatterjee while ‘rehearsing’ for a sexual assault scene.
In her post, she has claimed that she faced sexual abuse of the highest order by the renowned Theatre personality Prof. Sudipto Chatterjee, who also happened to be the faculty of the institution in which she has enrolled with.
She narrates that when she auditioned for a play called Lysistrata, which happened to be an in house production of the institute, she was selected by Chatterjee for the lead role of his own production ‘Bhadroja’.
“After three shows of Bhadroja, he suddenly realized that a scene wasn’t working and wanted to help me out with that. He called me to his place to teach me diaphragm breathing and psychophysical approach to acting,” wrote Mondal.
She added, “He spoke to me about the traumas of rape as the scene was of a similar nature, and took me to my utmost state of vulnerability. He held me from behind to teach diaphragm breathing and explained it wasn’t sexual, because if that had been the case then I would’ve felt his hardness.”
“Then he asked me to lie down on the bed with my eyes closed and deliver the dialogues of the above-mentioned scene. He started touching me and asked me to respond to his touch while delivering the dialogues. Then without a warning, he penetrated me with his fingers and asked me to spurt out the dialogues louder and louder,” she continued.
“I had became a corpse, completely non-functional. The moment I tightened my body and my voice broke, because of the suppressed cry, he withdrew. He distanced himself and explained how the process is complete and I’ve reached the emotional and mental state that was needed for the scene,” Mondal shared her story.
Mondal further alleged that Sudipto Chatterjee had tried something similar on another occasion, however, she could vocalize her ‘NO’ this time, so Chatterjee stopped harassing her.
Expressing her ordeal, Angela Mondal in her post stated that she “lived in denial, bottled up the trauma and continued to work” for the production ‘Bhadroja’, avoiding him as much as she could and took time to deal with her mental health and finally decided to come out with this incident.
Mondal claimed that when she finally confronted Sudipto Chatterjee with a written statement on WhatsApp, he blocked her. Sudipto’s wife Annesha Chakroborty, who was aware of the entire incident since the beginning, asked her to forget about it because exposing these allegations would destroy their relationship, alleges Mondal in her post.
She said that she had informed few other members of Sudipto Chatterjee’s theatre group ‘Spectators’, but they could not take any measures against him due to his power and position, however, they showed empathy through personal chats.
Mondal said she filed an official complaint with the institution against him on Monday and on 16th of October she was called for a meeting at the college and during the same meeting, the authority had informed me that Sudipto Chatterjee had ‘apparently’ submitted his resignation a day before the hearing.
“This isn’t the justice I deserve. It is an open secret in the circuit, that Sudipto Chatterjee, has been a serial sexual molester. There have been too many victims, however, he always had gotten away with this because the survivors couldn’t come out with their traumatic experiences,” expressed Mondal.
She added, “I am voicing out my experience on behalf of the women who have been at the receiving end of such violence but couldn’t. It is important that the people know that there is rapist roaming free in the eminent cultural circle, so that they may take necessary steps to exclude Sudipto Chatterjee from whatsoever association.”
Ending her post, Mondal stated that she was not Sudipto’s first prey and neither will be his last and asserted, “We will have to stop him”.