Actor Akshay Kumar quit Housefull 4 after the movie’s director, Sajid Khan, was accused of sexual misconduct by a former assistant director. Aamir Khan too quit a movie, Mogul, after allegations emerged against its director. After a year of #MeToo in Hollywood, the Indian film industry is seen opening up to the movement. But, top actors and actresses are yet to speak up or comment on the issue.
The big story of the #MeToo in Bollywood today was Sajid Khan stepping down as director from his upcoming comedy Housefull 4. Saloni Chopra, former assistant director, called out Sajid Khan in a post on Medium and said he sexually abused her when she worked with him seven years back. She also called out actor and her former boyfriend Zain Durrani for physical abuse, and filmmaker Vikas Bahl for sexist remarks.
She writes that Sajid Khan would call her ‘director’s assistant’ instead of the assistant director that she was. This meant she would have to work under him directly. According to her post, Sajid Khan would ask her to send inappropriate pictures of herself, call her after work hours, make inappropriate comments, and sexually harassed her for a long time.
When she finally confronted him and asked what he wanted from her, he said he wants to make her his b****, writes Saloni. She finally quit but he threatened her to end her career. When she opened up to the people in the industry, she says they dismissed her by saying that he was known in the industry for abusing women. Soon after her article was published, Sajid Khan tweeted, asking the media not to judge him till he 'proves the truth'.
After the article emerged, Housefull 4 lead actor Akshay Kumar walked out of the film. His wife, author and columnist Twinkle Khanna too spoke out against Sajid Khan in a tweet.
Sajid’s sister Farah Khan and their cousin, actor-director Farhan Akhtar commented on the allegations. Farah tweeted, “This is a heartbreaking time for my family. If my brother has behaved in this manner, he has a lot to atone for.”
Farhan Akhtar too spoke out on Twitter and said, “I cannot adequately stress how shocked, disappointed and heartbroken I am to read the stories about Sajid’s behaviour.”
Meanwhile, actor-filmmaker Aamir Khan too stepped out of an upcoming film, Mogul, reportedly a Gulshan Kumar biopic. Subhash Kapoor, who was supposed to direct the movie, is accused of alleged sexual misconduct and has been booked by the police for these action, as per media reports. Yesterday, Aamir Khan and his wife Kiran Rao tweeted from his handle saying that they have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual misconduct. They added that they are committed to making the film industry a safe and happy one to work in.
Actor Ajay Devgn tweeted that his company believes in treating women with the utmost respect and safety. He added, “If anyone has wronged even a single woman, neither ADF (Ajay Devgn Films) nor I will stand for it.”
Though it’s great that Bollywood is speaking up about incidents, there is an eerie silence at the top. Some of the biggest stars are yet to speak up. Shilpa Rathnam, a News18 anchor who covers Bollywood, tweeted, “I want to know why some superstars still haven’t spoken up on the #MeToo movement.”
YourStory spoke to Janice Sequeira, a former film journalist with Times Now. She told us, “Women in Hollywood have greater financial independence and freedom of speech, maybe more than Bollywood actresses who are used to male actors leading the narrative.” The film journalist, who had corroborated Tanushree Dutta’s allegations against actor Nana Patekar, said, “One cannot imagine how high the stakes are for these actresses if they decide to speak out. We, the media industry, need to make them feel empowered. Probably then a #MeToo will start from the top of the industry.”
TV actress Sandhya Mridul also came out with her #MeToo incident against TV superstar Alok Nath, and soon after, an actress from the starcast of Hum Aapke Hain Kaun came out against him as well. Actors such as Kalki Koechlin, Swara Bhaskar, Tisca Chopra, Rakhi Sawant, and Maushami Udeshi have been speaking out against casting couch in Bollywood, even before the #MeToo movement. Actor Ranveer Singh too came out in support of #MeToo.
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