Indian film-makers Subhash Ghai and Sajid Khan are the latest Bollywood’s bigwigs to have been accused of sexual misconduct.
Ghai was named by an anonymous account shared on Twitter, shared by writer Mahima Kukreja, who was one of the first women to accuse comedian Utsav Chakraborty of sexual harassment last week, according to Hindustan Times.
Kukreja said the woman is “very credible media/lit personality, who does not want to be named”.
The woman said she worked with Ghai on a film years ago and he started taking an extra interest in her and would often call her for script sessions at his apartment, which he would allegedly call his “thinking pad”.
She claims he once forcefully kissed her but tried to pacify her the next day by calling the incident a “lover’s tiff”. She said she told the first assistant director and two other women about the incident but decided to let it go because she had no job or financial security at that time. She alleges that after a late music session, he decided to have a drink and offered one to her, which “was spiked” while he was dropping her home in the car.
The woman remembers being taken to a hotel room and assaulted before losing consciousness.
When contacted, 73-year-old Ghai told PTI, “It is sad that it is becoming a fashion to malign anyone known, bringing some stories from past without any truth or blown up false allegations if all. I deny strictly and firmly all false allegations like these.” The director said he has always been respectful towards women in life as well in workplace.
“If she claims this way, she should go to the court of law and prove it. Justice will be done or I will go for defamation certainly,” he added.
Khan, on the other hand, was called out by three women. The most prominent one being of his former assistant director, Saloni Chopra.
“It took me years to get over the trauma he put me through. I was so scared around the people I worked with. And I’m sure he’s done this to so many other girls, I just want them to know they’re not alone. It’s been 7 years, and it’s about time I said it out loud,” she wrote in a heart-wrenching letter on a website.
“When I first started working for Sajid, he said I was a ‘director’s assistant’ and not an ‘assistant director’ which apparently meant that I’d have to do his work directly. I was okay with that. Slowly, he started calling at really odd hours. If I didn’t pick up I was told it didn’t matter to him if I was showering or anything else, when he called — I had to answer. I was petrified,” Chopra wrote.
“The calls started coming at 12 am and 2 am. He said the industry never sleeps and work happens at all hours… except he wasn’t talking about work. He’d ask me what I’m wearing or what I ate,” she added.
“One night, it got really ugly. I was so tired of the calls and the constant harassment, I asked him what he wanted from me. I told him that if this was just about intimacy then I was willing to do it provided he backed off afterwards and stopped calling me every day,” added the budding actor. “I was so tired of his behaviour that even my fear of him wasn’t enough to shut me up.”
Chopra further added the next day his behaviour was even more obscene. “That night he called and told me to take a few days off, threatening to fire me. I said nothing to him,” she stated. “Then a few days later he called me up and asked me to come back to work again, and thats when I told him I wouldn’t work for him anymore. He threatened to end my non existing career and throw me out of this industry. So, I told him to end my career if that’s what he wanted to do, but I was done.”
“I decided I’d just shut up, and forget about it. What was I going to do anyway? Fight against him? That thought made me laugh, even at the time. It took me years to get over the trauma he put me through. I was so scared around the people I worked with. And I’m sure he’s done this to so many other girls, I just want them to know they’re not alone. It’s been 7 years, and it’s about time I said it out loud,” Chopra concluded.
The Housefull director has quit the franchise.
Farah Khan took to Twitter and wrote, “This is a heartbreaking time for my family. We have to work through some very difficult issues. If my brother has behaved in this manner he has a lot to atone for. I don’t in any way endorse this behavior and Stand in solidarity with any woman who has been hurt.”
Akhshay Kumar, the protagonist of the film asked the producers to launch an investigation against Khan.
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