#MeToo: Sa­jid Khan, now the film’s for­mer di­rec­tor, faces ha­rass­ment charge, be­sides cast mem­ber Nana Patekar

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - City - - FRONT PAGE - Sa­marth Goyal

The big­gest ca­su­alty of Bol­ly­wood’s #MeToo move­ment so far has been the film House­full 4. While ac­tor Ak­shay Ku­mar can­celled the Oc­to­ber 12 shoot of the film af­ter grave sex­ual ha­rass­ment al­le­ga­tions against the film’s di­rec­tor Sa­jid Khan sur­faced on Thurs­day, later in the day Sa­jid tweeted he was step­ping down as di­rec­tor till he cleared his name.

On his re­turn from Italy, Ak­shay tweeted on Fri­day, “I’ve just landed back in the coun­try last night and read­ing all the news has been very dis­turb­ing. I have re­quested the pro­duc­ers of House­full 4 to can­cel the shoot un­til fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion. This is some­thing that re­quires strin­gent ac­tion. I will not work with any proven of­fend­ers and all those who have been sub­ju­gated to ha­rass­ment should be heard and given the jus­tice they de­serve.” The shoot was to be in Mum­bai.

Soon af­ter Sa­jid tweeted: “In the wake of the al­le­ga­tions against me and the pres­sure be­ing put on my fam­ily, my pro­ducer n the stars of my film House­full 4, I must take moral re­spon­si­bil­ity of step­ping down from my di­rec­to­rial post, till the time I can al­lay the al­le­ga­tions and prove the truth.. I re­quest my friends in the me­dia to kindly not pass judg­ment till the truth is out.”

A source close to the pro­duc­tion house told HT that Ak­shay’s de­ci­sion also in­volved the con­sid­er­a­tion that one of the ac­tors in the un­der­pro­duc­tion film is Nana Patekar, who was also ac­cused of sex­ual ha­rass­ment by Tanushree Dutta. “Ak­shay has never can­celled a shoot in his 28-year ca­reer. This is the first time he de­cided to do so, as the #MeToo move­ment can’t be ig­nored. Al­le­ga­tions made against Sa­jid and Nana are both se­ri­ous and grave,” the source said.

On Thurs­day, ac­tor Rachel White, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor Saloni Cho­pra and jour­nal­ist Kar­ishma Upad­hyay shared their tales of sex­ual ha­rass­ment by Sa­jid.

Ak­shay’s wife Twin­kle Khanna ex­pressed shock. “Ap­palled hear­ing mul­ti­ple in­ci­dents of ha­rass­ment and it is truly hor­rific to hear what these women have been through. Every­one in­volved in House­full needs to take a firm stance on this is­sue. This can­not go on,” she tweeted.

Mean­while Sa­jid’s cousin, ac­tor Farhan Akhtar, who had ear­lier sup­ported Tanushree’s claims, on Fri­day tweeted his dis­ap­point­ment, “I don’t know how but he will have to find a way to atone for his al­leged ac­tions.”


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