AIB Lets Co-Founders Tanmay Bhat & Gursimran Khamba Leave

Days after AIB comedian and editor Utsav Chakraborty was accused of sending explicit images to a number of women on social media, another comedian from the so called ‘woke’ group, founders Gursimran Khamba and Tanmay Bhatt have been accused of mental harassment by an anonymous woman.

It all started when a Twitter user started a thread accusing ‘Head-Writer’ Utsav Chakraborty of sending sexually explicit images to women, especially minors. Apparently, according to the thread, he was accused of asking minors to send ‘nudes.’ The thread led to a number of women complaining about sexual misconduct at AIB. However, Tanmay Bhat, co-founder and CEO of AIB knew about the whole incident when it took place and chose to remain quite about it. The group faced a lot of backlash as they continued to work with Utsav even though they knew of his behavior.

However, the group has also been called out for their statement by the user, who had in her thread said she had spoken to the founding members of the team, but to no avail. AIB then tweeted this, “”Also, a ton of rumours and allegations flying around suggesting Utsav is / was AIB’s Head Writer. Utsav was never our Head Writer. Also, Utsav has not been an employee at AIB since the end of 2016.”

Utsav, too, issued a statement, which claimed that the situation was more ‘complicated’ than what it appeared to be. He then went on to cite how his ‘mental illness’ had prompted him to behave the way he did.

The woman in question knew the co-founders on a personal level and following the allegations, AIB has let both of them leave. The woman, who requested anonymity, posted her statement about Khamba through the Twitter handle of a journalist.

She said she and the comedian had “hooked up two-three times, consensually and continued being friends” but things escalated when on two separate occasions, Khamba tried “repeatedly to make out with me while we were hanging out”.

“He lay down on top of me on the couch, I had to physically shove him away, turn my face or push his. He would then stop. And we would hang out, ignoring the entire thing. I continued being friends with him.”

The woman said the comic later realised he had feelings for her but by that time she was already in a relationship.

“This led to drunk calls, threat to ruin friendships, emotional blackmail and (emotional) abuse that went on for five months. In 2016, in Delhi, when we hung out, he wanted to come over, I said no. He said he didn’t want to do anything, just spend time with me. I don’t disbelieve this. But I said no. This was followed by him being angry and nasty and abusive.

“My equation with him has led to incredible stress, anxiety and a burden I carry even today in terms of how I conduct myself and navigate relationships, trust and general insecurity issues,” she said.

The woman said she decided to come forward because she was sick of the hypocrisy when he is “lauded as a smart, level headed woke” man. “It makes me sick to see people celebrate him when they don’t know the context and costs.”

Khamba acknowledged misbehaving on being rejected but said he never violated her consent. “I am aware of the person who’s stated the incident… in 2015 we had hooked up consensually multiple times. But I categorically deny the incident mentioned in October and December. I was not forceful.

“It is true that I developed feelings for her while she was dating someone else. During that time given our friendship and history I felt rejected and was angry and did not behave appropriately at all. It had become a toxic relationship and I’d like to apologise unconditionally for it like I had done in the past. That behaviour was extremely uncalled for. She rightly stopped talking to me,” Khamba said.

He said the woman reached out to him and they tried being friends again, but he was already in a relationship with his now wife. “She was uncomfortable with our past history because of which I stopped talking to her. I’m sorry for my bad behaviour and all he hurt it caused her but I categorically deny any violation of consent,” he added.

Following this, Tanmay Bhat has left the group and Gursimraan Khamba was put on temporary leave. AIB also issued a statement.

Moreover, Digital entertainment platform Hotstar has announced the cancellation of the third season of ‘On Air with AIB’ in light of the recent developments.


By Abhishek Aggarwal

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