#MeToo: Ni­harika calls out Nawazud­din, Bhushan and Sa­jid

Khaleej Times - - INDIA - Miss Lovely, Life

mumbai — For­mer beauty queen and Miss Lovely ac­tress Ni­harika Singh, buoyed by the “be­lated foray” of the #MeToo move­ment in In­dia, says she has faced sex­ual, phys­i­cal, emo­tional, ver­bal and eco­nomic ex­ploita­tion in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try at the hands of known names like Nawazud­din Sid­diqui, Bhushan Ku­mar and Sa­jid Khan.

“I de­cided to write this piece to ex­pand my own un­der­stand­ing of what con­sti­tutes abuse, who we choose to pun­ish and whom we are will­ing to for­give,” Ni­harika wrote in a an al­most 3,500 word-long note ar­tic­u­lat­ing her #MeToo story.

The note was shared on Twit­ter by jour­nal­ist Sand­hya Menon.

Ni­harika, who had won the Miss In­dia Earth ti­tle in 2005, said try­ing to make a name in the world of fash­ion and movies came with its share of strug­gle.

She said her big Bol­ly­wood de­but ran into road­blocks when Raj Kan­war, a film­maker who had signed a 10-film con­tract with her did not start work on his films nor did he al­low her to work on any other films that she was of­fered.

Then she came across Bhushan Ku­mar of T-Se­ries.

“Bhushan Ku­mar called me to his of­fice to sign A New Love Ish­tory where he gave me an en­ve­lope as a sign­ing amount for the film. It con­tained two 500 ru­pee notes. I got a text from him later that night — ‘I would love to know you more. Let’s get to­gether some­time.’ I wrote back say­ing — ‘Ab­so­lutely! Lets go on a dou­ble date. You bring your wife. I’ll bring my boyfriend.’ He never wrote to me again,” said Ni­harika, who never got paid for the project.

It was in 2009 that she signed the indie drama star­ring Nawazud­din Sid­diqui. She says he liked to call him­self “Nowaz”. Their in­ter­ac­tions led them to get closer as Ni­harika “found him real” after the “su­per­fi­cial ‘filmy’ in­ter­ac­tions” she had had in the past years.

Nar­rat­ing an in­ci­dent when she in­vited him for break­fast to her house, Ni­harika said: “When I opened the door, he grabbed me. I tried to push him away but he wouldn’t let go. After a lit­tle co­er­cion, I fi­nally gave in. I wasn’t sure what to make of this re­la­tion­ship. He told me it was his dream to have a Miss In­dia or an ac­tress wife, just like Paresh Rawal and Manoj Ba­j­payee.

“He of­ten com­plained about how he was judged on his looks, skin colour and that he wasn’t flu­ent in English. I tried to help him deal with his in­se­cu­ri­ties, but he was stuck in a state of vic­tim­i­sa­tion.”

Cracks ap­peared in their bond­ing when Ni­harika dis­cov­ered “one lie after an­other” about Nawazud­din, and she asked him to “clean up his mess, be hon­est with him­self and ev­ery­one around him”.

How­ever, their paths crossed again after three years at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val where Miss

Lovely was to be screened. They re­con­nected, but Ni­harika says when “he tried to re-en­gage me sex­u­ally, beg­ging me to be with him”, she re­fused say­ing she was happy to be his friend and noth­ing else.

She has fur­ther called out Nawazud­din for be­ing an “as­pi­ra­tional, sex­u­ally re­pressed In­dian man whose toxic male en­ti­tle­ment grew with his suc­cess”.

“What is in­ter­est­ing to note is that de­spite not iden­ti­fy­ing as a Hindu, he car­ries deep caste prej­u­dices since he chose to pro­tect the hon­our of his ‘Brah­min’ wife after their names came up in the CDR scam while on the other hand, he felt very com­fort­able paint­ing me as a se­duc­tress wear­ing faux for in his book, who he could sex­u­ally ex­ploit, for pub­lic imag­i­na­tion.”

Nawazud­din’s bi­og­ra­phy An Or­di­nary

had raked up a con­tro­versy after the Na­tional Award­win­ning ac­tor men­tioned de­tails of his “re­la­tion­ship” with Ni­harika.

In the end, she shared her tryst with Sa­jid Khan, who has been named by mul­ti­ple women for sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

“I met (him) a cou­ple of times while he was dat­ing an ac­tress I knew years ago, made a few pre­dic­tions when a close friend of ours was open­ing her sec­ond restau­rant — ‘This place will shut down within a year, mark my words.’ To his ac­tress girl­friend he said, ‘She won’t sur­vive a day with­out me in Bol­ly­wood’. And, this one’, look­ing at me straight, ‘will soon com­mit sui­cide.’

“My restau­ra­teur friend is open­ing her fourth restau­rant. It is dif­fi­cult to get a ta­ble at the other three. The ac­tress’ ca­reer sky­rock­eted after she dumped the film­maker and I have man­aged to stay alive.” —

Bhushan Ku­mar

Sa­jid Khan

Nawazud­din Sid­diqui

Ni­harika Singh

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