In another shocking case of #MeToo, film-maker Rajkumar Hirani has been accused of sexual harassment and abuse by a woman, who was part of Sanju team.
The woman has alleged that Hirani sexually abused her on multiple occasions for six months during the making of Sanju, according to Huffington Post.
Accusing Hirani of sexual harassment from March to September 2018, the woman had also informed Sanju co-producer, Vidhu Vinod Chopra about the alleged misconduct in an email to him on November 3, 2018.
Chopra's wife Anupama, scriptwriter Abhijat Joshi and Chopra's sister Shelly were also marked in the email. In her email, the woman stated that on April 9, 2018 Hirani for the first time made an inappropriate remark to her, following which he 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'. My mind, body and heart were grossly violated that night and for the next 6 months," the woman stated in the email to Chopra while describing the alleged sexual harassment, according to the publication.
While speaking to Huffington Post, the woman, who is around 30 years younger than Hirani, said that she could not raise her voice that time because she was afraid of losing her job. She said her father was suffering from a terminal illness, and she could not afford to lose her work at that time.
"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. Ever. 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 told the publication.
On the other side, Hirani completely denied the allegations, and stressed that he had a normal professional relationship with the woman. He also showed the publication a printout of an email he had sent to Chopra not only denying the allegations, but also showing willingness to be investigated by an independent body. He also reportedly showed text messages between him and the woman that were exchanged during those six months to prove the two had just a professional relationship.
Meanwhile, Chopra's wife, who is the director of Mumbai Film Festival (MAMI), confirmed to the publication that the woman had reached out to them, and they had assured her of full support.
"I have 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. 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. 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," Anupama told Huffington Post.
Abhijat also said that he is aware of the complaint, and is willing to provide full support to her.