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Exclusive! Chhotolok actress Daminee Benny Basu: It is not just about Suman Mukhopadhyay, the system normalises gaslighting

Chhotolok actress Daminee Benny Basu demands a reaction from Suman Mukhopadhyay about casting Sudipto Chatterjee who has allegations of sexual misconduct against him 

Exclusive! Chhotolok actress Daminee Benny Basu: It is not just about Suman Mukhopadhyay, the system normalises gaslighting
Daminee Benny Basu and Suman Mukhopadhyay

Last Updated: 08.15 PM, Apr 05, 2024


Ace actress Daminee Benny Basu is livid at the moment and she refuses to hide it anymore. The actress has been speaking against the ‘social rehabilitation’ of the alleged sexual predators in the Bengali theatre circuit for a while. Recently, she was vocal about casting an alleged predator, Sudipto Chatterjee, in a play, Tiner Talwar, by Suman Mukhopadhyay. While Sudipto was replaced after the first show, Suman remained silent on the matter. This irked the actress.

Suman Mukhopadhyay praises Daminee in Chhotolok as she demands his reaction  

Daminee has been critically lauded for her performance in Indranil Roychowdhury’s web series Chhotolok (streams on Zee5 and you can also watch it on OTTplay Premium). Recently, Suman, known for his ace theatre productions over the years, shared an appreciation post for the web show. Praising the actress, he wrote, “Everyone did an amazing job. But I will talk about Benny (Daminee Benny Bose) in particular. I am impressed with her performance. The various layers of a human are developed with meticulous care. I was reminded of actress Alison Tolman’s role as a small-town police officer in the Coen Brothers’ series Fargo. Reminded me of Gitanjali Kulkarni’s role as a government advocate in Chaitanya Tamanah’s Court. Having worked with Benny on stage before, she is unquestionably an accomplished artiste. But this series also reached another level.”  

Daminee appreciated Suman’s gesture. However, at the same time, the actress questioned the director’s silence over casting Sudipto in his play. She shared his post and wrote, “All our growing up formative years we would secretly yearn for a Laal-da approved red letter! You've made us rethink and question the pre-existing, the rot, and the unacceptable. You've been our hero in re-designing the politics in the aesthetics sitting right here in Kolkata! Then why does it feel unfair when our hearts break now with you choosing radio silence over what matters the most, in terms of dehumanising the struggle of so many women, young girls, and young boys fighting for their rights over their safety in the theater space? Is our safety, our harassment, or abuse not political, 'bhodro' or 'alarming' enough for any of you to talk about?” 

Daminee says it is not just about one incident

While talking to OTTplay, Daminee said, “My post, or stance, is not just about Sudipto Chatterjee or Suman Mukhopadhyay being silent about casting him. Women, young aspiring artistes, and even young men are exploited – sexually or otherwise – by seniors over a long period in the Bengali theatre circuit. This place is home to me. I have seen and experienced this and raised my voice against it. It often fell on deaf ears. Exploitations have been normalised, predators were given power or socially reinstated, and the exploitation kept going. This is insane. The system normalises gaslighting. If I don’t speak up about the rot in my own home, who will?” she questioned.

Suman reprised Utpal Dutt’s seminal work Tiner Talwar under the banner of the theatre group Mukhomukhi. The play features Debshankar Halder, Shankar Chakraborty, Poulami Bose, and others. Sudipto, who is also known for his voice for music, performed a song by the end. The show premiered on March 2 and soon there was an uproar on social media. A number of theatre activists condemned Sudipto’s presence in the play since the allegations are still under trial. 

Mukhomukhi’s Bilu Dutta apologises 

OTTplay reached out to Suman Mukhopadhyay and Mukhomukhi for their reactor. Bilu Dutta, one of the leaders of Mukhomukhi, said, “Just about a week before the premiere, we needed a theatre actor who could sing. Sudipto Chatterjee’s name came up and he became a part of the show. Soon after the first show we realised that we made a mistake. We all are equally responsible for our actions and we apologise for it. To err is human. We took no time to rectify our mistake and replaced Sudipto immediately. I would request everyone to watch Tiner Talwar – it is one of the best works by Suman Mukhopadhyay. Also, let’s not forget that in 2019, when Sudipto was accused of sexual misconduct, Suman stopped his show, Man Of Heart, immediately. On behalf of Suman and Mukhomukhi, I want to apologise and request people to watch Tiner Talwar for its merit.”

In 2019, a number of women called out Sudipto Chatterjee for his sexual misconduct. A chilling account of a victim led to rape charges against him. Two police complaints were filed – one at Phoolbagan Police Station and the other at Beliaghata PS – against Sudipto. 

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