Bollywood director Rajkumar Hirani has been accused of sexual assault by a woman who worked with him during the making of film Sanju, according to a report in the website Huffington Post. Hirani has denied the accusations in a statement issued by his lawyer. A number of powerful personalities in Bollywood have been named under India’s MeToo movement, which started after actor Tanushree Dutta accused Nana Patekar of inappropriate behaviour during a film shoot in 2008.
Hirani, who has made films such as Munna Bhai series, 3 Idiots and PK before the Sanjay Dutt biopic, allegedly assaulted the woman on more than one occasion over a six-month period from March and September 2018, according to the report. The woman detailed her accusations in an email in November to Sanju’s co-producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra, his wife and journalist Anupama Chopra, Hirani’s close associate and scriptwriter Abhijat Joshi and Shelly Chopra who is Chopra’s sister and director of upcoming film Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga.
As per the email, Hirani first made a suggestive remark to the woman in April and later assaulted her at his home-office. She writes that “my mind, body and heart were grossly violated” for the next six months. The woman, however, had to be polite to Hirani as her father was suffering from a terminal illness and she was afraid that speaking out could jeopardise her career.
“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 said.
Hirani has dismissed the accusations through his lawyer Anand Desai, calling it “false and completely unjustified”. While Chopra has not responded yet, his wife said that both of them have offered their full support to the complainant.
Hirani’s name has been dropped from the posters of Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga. When first released, the poster of the Sonam Kapoor-starrer was labelled under Vinod Chopra Films as well as Rajkumar Hirani Films.
Hirani’s is the latest name to be called out in India’s #MeToo movement, in which women have accused Nana Patekar, Alok Nath, Vikas Bahl and Sajid Khan among others of sexual misconduct.