Friday, Jun 21, 2024 | Last Update : 08:37 PM IST

  Life   More Features  14 Mar 2017  A bad case of Viral

A bad case of Viral

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Mar 14, 2017, 12:14 am IST
Updated : Mar 14, 2017, 6:42 am IST

A supposed ex-employee, she accused Kumar of molestation on various occasions.

Still from TVF Pitchers
 Still from TVF Pitchers

The Viral Fever — or TVF — a trailblazer in the world of web series, found itself in the midst of a murky controversy on Monday. An anonymous author with the blog name Indian Fowler, accused TVF’s founder, Arunabh Kumar, of sexual harassment in a post that went viral on the Internet. A supposed ex-employee, she accused Kumar of molestation on various occasions. “Right from Pitchers to Tripling, I was molested. Be it in parties where Arunabh would try to lift me or would try and fall on me pretending he is drunk. One instance was the Ola deal. The Ola team was meeting him and we were taking notes. He walks out of the meeting with some excuse and calls me for some notes. I walk up. He says its time we do a quicky. I am stunned (sic),” she wrote in a 700-word long post that went on to mention in detail her trauma as a TVF employee.

It went on to cause much outrage in the virtual space, with many viewers condemning the platform, and a few others calling the post a publicity stunt. When contacted, Arunabh chose not to respond to our message. Comedian Vipul Goyal, closely associated with the comedy collective, too, chose not to respond to our questions. Meanwhile, an alleged ex-employee, Aayushi Agarwal, came forward to testify against the channel. When contacted she said, “I worked for TVF for a year and three months and I was harassed by another colleague; it wasn’t Arunabh.  Overall my experience was very bad as a woman. I hated working there and had to leave my job hurriedly.” She added, “I reported it to everyone there could be. My case was handled with such stupidity and callousness; nobody paid any heed. And it is only after I threatened to lodge an FIR did they come forward and fired the guy in question.”

nidhi

As the post continued to be circulated, another young lady called Reema Sengupta, who has worked with TVF in the past came forward to support Indian Fowler’s claims. “I was shooting with him (Arunabh) in the TVF office, for a web series I was directing last year. In the middle of the shoot, he touches 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 looks, but at the same time graze his hand against my waist. 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’m sure they would’ve supported my decision. But today, I had to choose between keeping quiet and extending my support to a girl who has bravely spoken up. TVF can release as many ‘official responses’ rubbishing these claims as they’d like. This is my truth.”

Later, in an official statement issued by TVF, the collective said, “The article is completely ludicrous and defamatory against TVF and its team. All the allegations made against TVF and its team in the article are categorically false, baseless and unverified. We take a lot of pride in our team and in making TVF a safe workplace that is equally comfortable for women and men. We will leave no stone unturned to find the author of the article and bring them to severe justice for making such false allegations. It is our humble request that you do not share an unsubstantiated, unverified and anonymous article such as this. We would like to thank all our fans and friends for their continued support.”

There are others, however, who don’t want to jump to any conclusion without more concrete proof. City stand-up comic Kunal Kamra, for one, doesn’t believe Arunabh is capable of the allegations levelled against him. “I don’t want to believe anything till the anonymous author doesn’t reveal herself. I know Arunabh. I don’t believe that he is capable of anything like this,” he said.

In the past couple of years, the TVF has brought out several series including the hugely popular Permanent Roommates, Barely Speaking with Arnub, TVF Pitchers, TVF Tripling and Chai Sutta Chronicles among others. 

Tags: viral fever, arunabh kumar, sexual harassment, tvf