Ra­jku­mar Hirani ac­cused of sex­ual as­sault, di­rec­tor de­nies al­le­ga­tion

Film­maker de­nies al­le­ga­tions, terms # MeToo story ‘ ma­li­cious, mis­chievous’

The Asian Age - - Front Page -

Mum­bai: Ra­jku­mar Hirani has been ac­cused of sex­ual as­sault by a woman who worked with him on his 2018 film Sanju and the film­maker has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, terming them “false” and “ma­li­cious” and aimed at de­stroy­ing his rep­u­ta­tion.

In an ar­ti­cle on Huf­fPost In­dia, the woman, who calls her­self “an as­sis­tant”, al­leged that Hirani sex­u­ally abused her more than once be­tween March and Septem­ber 2018.

She de­tailed her al­le­ga­tions in an email dated Novem­ber 3, 2018, to Hirani’s fre­quent col­lab­o­ra­tor and Sanju co- pro­ducer Vidhu Vinod Cho­pra.

After the ar­ti­cle went vi­ral on the In­ter­net, the film­maker re­leased a state­ment in which he said he was “shocked” when the claims were brought to his no­tice two months ago.

He said he sug­gested the case be re­ferred to a “com­mit­tee or a le­gal body” but the com­plainant chose to go the me­dia in­stead.

“I was com­pletely

shocked when these al­le­ga­tions were brought to my no­tice about two months back. I had sug­gested im­me­di­ately that it is es­sen­tial to take this mat­ter to any com­mit­tee or any le­gal body.

“The com­plainant has cho­sen to go to the me­dia in­stead. I want to very strongly state that this is a false ma­li­cious and mis­chievous story be­ing spread with the sole in­ten­tion of de­stroy­ing my rep­u­ta­tion,”

Hirani said in a state­ment.

In the Huf­fPost In­dia ar­ti­cle, Hirani’s lawyer Anand De­sai called the al­le­ga­tions “false, mis­chievous, scan­dalous, mo­ti­vated and defam­a­tory”.

The woman said that on April 9, 2018, the di­rec­tor first passed a sex­u­ally sug­ges­tive re­mark to her and later sex­u­ally as­saulted her at his home- of­fice.

“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’,” she wrote of the April 9 in­ci­dent in the email to Cho­pra, as quoted by Huf­fPost In­dia.

The woman said Hirani was a fa­ther fig­ure for her.

“My mind, body and heart were grossly vi­o­lated that night and for the next 6 months,” the email read.

Cho­pra’s wife, film critic Anu­pama Cho­pra, who is a di­rec­tor at Vinod Cho­pra Films Pvt Ltd, Sanju scriptwriter Ab­hi­jat Joshi, and Vidhu Vinod’s sis­ter Shelly Cho­pra were also marked on the email.

The com­plainant later spoke to Huf­fPost In­dia that she was “in­tim­i­dated by Hirani”, who was her re­port­ing per­son at the time.

She said she main­tained a fa­cade of nor­malcy re­gard­ing Hirani’s be­hav­iour as she needed to hold on to her job as her fa­ther was suf­fer­ing from a ter­mi­nal ill­ness.

Anu­pama Cho­pra had con­firmed that the woman had shared an ac­count with her, and that Vinod Cho­pra Films ( VCF) has since set up a com­mit­tee to ad­dress com­plaints of sex­ual harass­ment. “I had no choice but to be po­lite to him. It was un­bear­able but I en­dured it be­cause I didn’t want my job to be taken away from me.

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