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#MeToo again! Rajkumar Hirani accused of sexual harassment by 'Sanju' crew member, denies allegations

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 13 January 2019, 06:16 PM
Rajkumar Hirani accused of sexual harassment by 'Sanju' crew member (File Photo)
Rajkumar Hirani accused of sexual harassment by 'Sanju' crew member (File Photo)

Just when India witnessed a little low in the suddenly surged #MeToo movement, another allegation came to light accusing noted filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani on Sunday. Hirani, who is known for several mind-boggling blockbuster films like PK, 3 Idiots and Munna Bhai MBBS, has been accused of sexual harassment by a woman, who worked in his last release Sanju. According to the woman, the Sanju director abused her for more than one occasion between March and September 2018. However, Hirani has categorically denied the allegations with his lawyer Anand Desai terming the contention "false, mischievous, scandalous, motivated and defamatory".

According to an article published on the HuffPost India, the woman narrated her ordeal through an email dated November 3, 2018. The mail was addressed to Hirani's long-time business partner and Sanju co-producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra. In her mail to Chopra, the woman, who calls herself an "assistant", claimed that on April 9, 2018, Hirani first passed a sexually suggestive remark to her and later assaulted her at his home office.

Read | Tanushree Dutta, after igniting #MeToo movement in India, packs bag to return to the US

"I remember forming these words on my lips - 'Sir, this is wrong. Because of this power structure. You being the absolute power and me being a mere assistant, a nobody - I will never be able to express myself to you'," HuffPost India quoted her November 3 mail to Chopra.

The woman also dubbed Hirani a "father figure for her", adding that her "mind, body and heart were grossly violated that night and for the next 6 months". However, the complainant did not quit her job and maintained a facade of normalcy regarding Hirani's behaviour as her father was suffering from a terminal illness.

"I had no choice but to be polite to him. It was unbearable but the reason I endured it all until I couldn't, was because I didn't want my job to be taken away from me, and work to be questioned," the email read.

Read | Allegations against Sajid Khan: Surprising, disappointing and strange, says Farhan Akhtar

"I was worried that if I left midway, it would be impossible to find another job in this industry if he were to speak badly about my work. Because if Hirani said I wasn't good, everybody would listen. My future would be in jeopardy," she added.

Meanwhile, Chopra’s wife and film critic Anupama Chopra, who was also marked in the mail, confirmed that the Vinod Chopra Films (VCF) has set up a committee following her complaint and will address allegations of sexual harassment.

"I have offered my full support and recommended that she take the complaint to a legal body or a neutral party since we cannot be arbitrators or judges on this. We also offered to set up an ICC at VCF (which we have set up since then) even though a VCF ICC could not have taken up the case since she was an RHF (Rajkumar Hirani Films) employee at the time. These are two separate companies," Anupama replied in an email dated December 5, 2018.

Read | Yearender 2018: From Padmaavat to #MeToo movement, 11 controversies which took India by storm

In mid-2018, the #MeToo storm in India engulfed many a stalwart such as Nana Patekar, Alok Nath, Vikas Bahl, Sajid Khan Anu Malik, Lasith Malinga and former Union minister MJ Akbar, among others.

First Published: Sunday, January 13, 2019 05:56 PM
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