The nine-year old ordeal of director Madhur Bhandarkar and his family ended on November 5 when the Supreme Court quashed the rape charges leveled against the filmmaker by starlet Preeti Jain.
Madhur's wife Renu broke into tears when he called her with the joyful news.
"Our marriage was only six months old when this case happened," Bhandarkar said. "I called her. She was travelling .She jumped out of her seat. In fact, when I left for the court in the morning she had told me it would end today."
The director adds: "When I heard the verdict, I didn't understand what was being said. My senior counsel Harish Salve said 'Madhur, your case is over'. It still didn't register. I can't tell you what I felt at that moment. Everything froze. For a few seconds, I was lost. My other lawyer Shreyansh Mithare shook me and told me I was finally free of the charge that had haunted me for nine years.
"It took me time to just walk across that corridor of the Supreme Court. I thought I was in a dream. I went in a corner, stood and wept like a baby.The relief is something I can't put in words," he continues.
Speaking about the horrific ordeal he went through, Madhur says, "I continued to work as normal. But somewhere within me, the false accusation was always haunting and tormenting me. But I had to be brave. I didn't want my detractors to feel that I was cowed down. I had the support of my wife, sister and mother and friends, especially Ashoke Pundit who stood by me all through."
Madhur says it was his work that kept him going. "I was never demoralized. I never had to face any kind of suspicion or negativity because of what I was going through. Some of the biggest heroines happily worked with me -- whether it was Bipasha Basu, Priyanka Chopra or Kareena Kapoor. I never felt any awkwardness just because someone had made such a nasty accusation against me. I continued to make movies. I think I did my best work during this period of trial. I feel a crisis like this spurs you to do better than your best. In fact, right after the false allegation, I made Page 3 for which I got the National Award. Then I made another National Award winning film Fashion."
Madhur reveals how hurt he was by the doomsday prediction for his career. "When it happened, a lot of people said Madhur Bhandarkar's career is over. But I made films that the government honoured. That reassured me. The people who matter saw through the false charge."
Speaking of the wider repercussions of the charge leveled against the filmmaker for 'raping' the starlet with false promises of roles in his films, Madhur opines, "I feel somewhere this incident permanently damaged the rapport between directors and aspiring actors. Filmmakers say, 'Jaisa Madhur Bhandarkar ke saath hua hamare saath na ho jaye'. After my experience, no director wants to meet a new actor or actress directly. We now have casting agencies to do the casting in our films. A lot of filmmakers have installed CCTV cameras in their offices to ensure that any meeting with actors is not misrepresented."
Madhur is now planning a victory bash.