Comedy group All India Bakchod (AIB) announced on Twitter on Wednesday that “AIB’s YouTube channel is for all intents and purposes, dead for the foreseeable future”. AIB also said that Tanmay Bhat, the group’s co-founder, will return but no longer be CEO. Another founding member, Gursimran Khamba, will “no longer be involved in operations at AIB”. Bhat was asked to step away from the company and Khamba put on indefinite leave last October, during the height of the #MeToo movement in India. Bhat was accused of ignoring complaints of sexual misconduct and harassment against Utsav Chakraborty, a former employee and frequent collaborator, and Khamba was accused by an unnamed woman of violating her consent and emotionally abusing her. Khamba had denied the allegations. “With business going to zero,” AIB wrote, “we had to let our office space and the entire team go overnight. Production, creative, admin, all of it.”
Khamba ‘did not co-operate with probe’
In the letter, the company termed Bhat’s actions an “egregious lapse of judgement” and admitted that its work culture at work may not have been perfect, even though it had an anti-harassment system and an internal committee to probe allegations “from the start”. On Khamba, AIB’s letter said that a two-member External Committee (EC) – comprising a senior partner at a law firm and a diversity consultant – had been appointed to look into the allegations against him. However, AIB said, Khamba stepped away from the probe citing issues with the procedure, leaving the EC unable to complete its investigation. “Given these circumstances, Gursimran Khamba will no longer be involved in operations at AIB and will be working independent of us,” AIB wrote. The letter also said Rohan Joshi and Ashish Shakya would continue to manage the “remaining affairs” at the company, but would also pursue solo interests.
Khamba issued a statement on Instagram hours after AIB sacked him, in which he said the inquiry “was replete with procedural lapses and did not follow principles of natural justice”. He wrote, “Since the allegation surfaced, an informal committee was set up to look into it. The committee was neither a court/tribunal, nor an internal complaints committee set up under the POSH Act.”
#MeToo allegations had swift repercussions
Days after the allegations surfaced in October, Hotstar cancelled ‘On Air With AIB’ in the middle of its third season; Amazon removed Khamba from Gormint, a political satire that AIB was producing for Prime Video; and the Mumbai Film Festival removed AIB’s film Chintu Ka Birthday from its lineup.