Despite the #NotMyDeepika appeal from her fans, it looks like actress Deepika Padukone will likely be in #MeToo accused director Luv Ranjan’s next film. No official announcement has been made but the Internet went into overdrive after Deepika, 33, was spotted leaving the filmmaker’s home two days ago with Ranbir Kapoor. Soon after, reports in publications such as Times Of India and SpotboyE suggested that both actors would be in Luv Ranjan’s new project, as would Nushrat Bharucha and Ajay Devgn, both of whom he has previously worked with. If Deepika does end up working with Luv Ranjan, she might well have lost herself many fans. Twitter was instantly flooded with pleas asking Deepika Padukone not to work with a man accused of several counts of sexual harassment.

One tweet read: “When you work with an abuser, you not only nullify the attempts of the survivors to finally achieve some justice, you also stain your own legacy as well. You’ll lose respect and credentials as an artist, Deepika Padukone. Don’t do this.”

Ranbir Kapoor is not being held to the same standard of accountability as his colleague – there are no tweets asking him not to work with Luv Ranjan – and neither are Nushrat Bharucha, who vociferously defended Luv Ranjan when he was called out for alleged harassing an actress, or Ajay Devgn, who worked not only with Luv Ranjan but also alleged rapist Alok Nath in his last film De De Pyaar De. Deepika Padukone, it seems, is associated with a greater level of integrity and some tweets point out the irony of the feminist content of her work-in-progress Chhapaak, based on the life of an acid attack survivor, versus the potential Luv Ranjan film.

Two days ago, Deepika and Ranbir were spotted leaving Luv Ranjan’s house – the Internet jumped to the obvious conclusion.

Last year, an official Luv Films announcement revealed that Ranbir and Ajay Devgn would star in the filmmaker’s next project.

Luv Ranjan was among the several Bollywood men to be accused last year of sexually harassing female colleagues. An unnamed actress alleged that he had asked her to strip to her underwear and also posed inappropriate questions while auditioning for 2011 film Pyaar Ka Punchnama. Nushrat Bharucha, who has starred in several Luv Ranjan films including Pyaar Ka Punchnama and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, posted an impassioned defence of the director on social media. Her Pyaar Ka Punchnama co-star Sonnalli Seygall also defended Luv Ranjan.

Despite the powerful wave of #MeToo stories that emerged from Bollywood last year, it appears that the film industry is only too willing to give alleged sexual predators a free pass. Ajay Devgn was roundly criticised for appearing in a film with Alok Nath, accused of rape, after having publicly pledged not to work with sexual offenders. More recently, Vikas Bahl’s directing credits were restored in Super 30 after he was cleared of sexual misconduct charges, allegedly without due process being followed. He was also spotted at a Sunday lunch party at filmmaker Farah Khan’s house with guests such as his Super 30 star Hrithik Roshan, actresses Kriti Sanon and Aditi Rao Hydari, tennis player Sania Mirza and others.

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