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Hotstar cancels ‘On Air With AIB’ Season 3 citing harassment allegations

Hotstar has cancelled All India Bakchod’s ‘On Air With AIB’ in the middle of its third season. Hotstar said in a statement, “We are deeply concerned by these developments, which run contrary to our values as a responsible platform, and will not stand by anything that compromises the respect or safety of women.”

In the show’s first episode, Bhat said that their contract with Hotstar for On Air expired this year, and they might move to a different streaming service next year. That seems unlikely now. Episodes from the current season will no longer be produced.

This comes days after Utsav Chakraborty, a frequent collaborator with the comedy collective, was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. One of the accusers said that she had confronted Tanmay Bhat, co-founder and CEO, with her experience with Chakraborty. Bhat apologised for not doing anything, and said that Chakraborty’s explanation had convinced him. Chakraborty was accused of untoward sexual advances and behaviour towards women, some of who were minors, which he denied. He deleted the social media posts where he tried to explain his misconduct.

  • VICE India, which hosted a webseries called Suresh prominently featuring Chakraborty, took the series down without issuing a statement.
  • The Mumbai Film Festival has also removed All India Bakchod’s film Chintu Ka Birthday from its lineup.

Bhat and another co-founder, Gursimran Khamba, have both been accused of misconduct themselves since, and have taken leave from AIB for the time being.

AIB’s head of human resources Vidhi Jotwani was frank about the uncertain future of the collective in a statement. “Both of our senior partners are immediately stepping away from all business at AIB. Truthfully, we do not know what this means for the future of AIB or whether there is one.”

Over the last weekend, several men have been accused of harassment in the media industry in India, in what commentators have described as India’s own #MeToo moment. This is referring to the spate of sexual harassment allegations that followed the outing of producer Harvey Weinstein in 2017. A smaller number of harassers in the media industry were accused earlier this year in a crowdsourced list compiled by academic Raya Sarkar.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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