Acclaimed filmmaker and director of movies Sanju, 3 Idiots, and Munna Bhai M.B.B.S., Rajkumar Hirani has been accused of sexually harassing a woman, who was an assistant director of Sanju, Hirani’s latest venture. The complainant has stated that Hirani sexually abused her more than once over a period of 6 months between March and September 2018. She also stated that the abuse allegedly took place during the post-production of Sanju, the biopic of Sanjay Dutt, which released on June 29, 2018.
The allegations made by the woman were detailed in an email that she had addressed to Vidhu Vinod Chopra on November 3, 2018. Along with Chopra, his wife Anupama, the director of Mumbai Film Festival (MAMI), scriptwriter Abhijat Joshi, who worked with Hirani on multiple hit projects, and Shelly Chopra, the director of the upcoming film Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga and Vidhu Vinod’s sister was also marked in the email.
Rajkumar Hirani has categorically denied all allegations and has responded through his lawyer to HuffPost India that “the allegations made against him are false, mischievous, scandalous, motivated and defamatory.”
In the complainant’s email dated November 3, 2018, the woman stated that on April 9, 2018, Hirani for the first time 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,” the woman stated in the email to Chopra about the incident that took place that day. She also mentioned that until the abuse took place, she considered Hirani as a father figure.
In an interview with the HuffPost India, the woman said that she was painfully forced to maintain a normal facade and conceal the director’s actions as she had a terminally ill father to take care of and desperately wanted to hold on to the job.
“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. Ever,” said the woman to HuffPost India.
Vidhu Vinod Chopra Responds to Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Hirani
Initially, both Chopra and his wife did not respond to any questions put forth by the media regarding this incident. However, later in an email, Anupama Chopra confirmed that she was aware of the charges against Hirani and since then have set up a committee to address sexual harassment complainants at the Vinod Chopra Films (VCF).
“I’ve met the complainant twice. Both times, 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,” responded Anupama Chopra.
“She stayed at our house for two nights. We also provided the number of an expert on the issue so she could talk to a professional. She said she needed time to think through how she will take it forward. I did not want in any way to pressurise her or steer her in any direction. As Vinod and I told her then, she has our full support and we are fully respectful of whatever decision she has taken.” added Chopra.
Scriptwriter Abhijat Joshi, who was also marked in on the complainant’s email said that it was his duty to patiently listen to what the woman had to say and has also extended his support.
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