The #MeToo storm has hit India, and Bollywood in particular, hard as allegations of sexual misconduct, molestation and attempted rape pile up against Bollywood bigwigs. The latest to be accused are renowned filmmakers Subhash Ghai and Sajid Khan.
Director Subhash Ghai, whose notable works include Ram Lakhan, Saudagar, Khalnayak, Pardes and Taal has been accused of sexual assault by an anonymous woman on Twitter, who shared her story through writer Mahima Kukreja. It is pertinent to note that the anonymous accuser’s profile has the blue tick of verification, visible in the screenshots shared by Kukreja.
The accuser, who according to Kukreja is “a very credible media/lit personality,” shared that she worked with Ghai on a film years ago and was very keen to learn and work from him because she wanted to prove it to her parents that she could be a director. The accuser said that initially Ghai would just ask her to stay back late for music recordings and would casually touch her. Later, Ghai invited the victim to his two-bedroom apartment, which he called his “thinking pad” for a script session, but instead tried to kiss her forcefully before she ran out of there.
She said that the next day, he told to her to let go of the matter which she did because she had “no other job, no financial security, no family.”
TW: drugging and raping. About Shubash Ghai. Told personally by the woman who faced the trauma. She’s also a very credible media/lit personality. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/QpmGfy1s0V
— Mahima Kukreja 🌱🌈✊🏽 (@AGirlOfHerWords) October 11, 2018
The woman alleged that on a day sometime later, after a music session ended late, Ghai was to drop her home. However on the way home, Ghai gave her a spiked drink and took her to a hotel room instead where he attempted to rape her. The victim recalled that she passed out when Ghai mounted her. The next day he dropped her home and someone from his office told her that if she quit then, she won’t be paid. She said that she handed in her resignation a week after that.
TW: drugging and raping. About Shubash Ghai. Told personally by the woman who faced the trauma. She’s also a very credible media/lit personality. (2/2) pic.twitter.com/YVMRZSpQc6
— Mahima Kukreja 🌱🌈✊🏽 (@AGirlOfHerWords) October 11, 2018
Meanwhile, 73-year-old Ghai has denied all such accusations and said, “It is sad that it is becoming a fashion to malign anyone known, bringing some stories from past without any truth or blown up false allegations if all. I deny strictly and firmly all false allegations like these.”
The director said he has always been respectful towards women in life as well in the workplace.
“If she claims this way, she should go to the court of law and prove it. Justice will be done or I will go for defamation certainly,” he added.
Ghai also took to Twitter to deny the allegations, writing, “Destiny shows you good times, bad times. I’m deeply pained to be gripped in this movement, but thanks to those who know me and my respect I shower to women and their dignity in spite of our cosmetic world we live and react more through our love, affection and respect Now seen in different perspectives.”
Destiny shows u good times bad times-I m deeply pained 2b gripped in this movement but thank those who know me n my respect I shower to women n their dignity in spite of our cosmetic world we live n react more thru our love affection n respect Now seen in different perspectives
— Subhash Ghai (@SubhashGhai1) October 12, 2018
Sajid Khan, on the other hand, was called out by three women: actor Rachel White, his former assistant director Saloni Chopra and a journalist.
Saloni wrote a harrowing account of the harassment she faced at the producer’s hand, which included talk of whether she would ever get a breast job, how sex was really a mental connection and how she was foolish in thinking that “casting couch” was about one-time sex.
Chopra added that Khan would call her at odd hours and would ask her to send pictures of herself in bikinis so he could have a look if she ever decides to be an actor.
“It took me years to get over the trauma he put me through. I was so scared around the people I worked with. And I’m sure he’s done this to so many other girls, I just want them to know they’re not alone. It’s been 7 years, and it’s about time I said it out loud,” Saloni wrote in her account.
Following Chopra’s account, actor Rachel White in a series of tweets spoke at length about her own experience of being sexually harassed at the hands of the filmmaker.
White shared that during the making of Humshakals, Sajid would ask her to come to his home and order her to strip on the pretext that her role in the film required her to be in a bikini.
When she refused saying that her bikini shots were already included in her portfolio, he continued to insist. She said that despite wearing clothes, his gaze would make her feel as if she was naked.
Journalist, Karishma Upadhyay also shared her story on Twitter. She detailed that she went to interview him at the house he shared with his sister, well-known director Farah Khan. However, during the course of the interview, Khan allegedly kept talking about his penis and eventually flashed it to her. When she tried to escape, he forced his tongue down her throat.
She added that a few years later, she crossed paths with Khan again, but this time she “forewarned him about behaving himself.”
“I’ll never forget what he said to me, ‘You are fatter than you used to be. I won’t touch you with a barge pole.’ And then he laughed,” Upadhyay concluded.
— YellowGlassDragon (@karishmau) October 11, 2018
Following the accusations, Khan stepped down from the director’s seat of his upcoming film Housefull 4.
“I must take the moral responsibility of stepping down from my directorial post, till the time I can allay the allegations and prove the truth,” Khan wrote on Twitter requesting his friends in the media to not pass judgments till the matter is properly resolved.
— Sajid Khan (@SimplySajidK) October 12, 2018
Sajid’s sister Farah, also commented on the matter writing, “This is a heartbreaking time for my family. We have to work through some very difficult issues. If my brother has behaved in this manner he has a lot to atone for. I don’t in any way endorse this behavior and stand in solidarity with any woman who has been hurt.”
This is a heartbreaking time for my family.We have to work through some very difficult issues. If my brother has behaved in this manner he has a lot to atone for.I don’t in any way endorse this behavior and Stand in solidarity with any woman who has been hurt.
— Farah Khan (@TheFarahKhan) October 12, 2018
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, which gained pace in India after Tanushree Dutta accused Nata Patekar of harassing her, accusations are being levelled against notable personalities in the media and entertainment industry, including Vikas Bahl, Alok Nath, Kailash Kher and Rajat Kapoor.