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Raju Hirani accused of sexual assault

Source: PTI
January 13, 2019 17:49 IST
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The film-maker has denied the allegations, terming them 'false, mischievous, scandalous, motivated and defamatory'.

Film-maker Rajkumar Hirani has been accused of sexual assault by a woman who worked with him on his film Sanju.

Hirani has categorically denied the allegations. His lawyer Anand Desai termed the allegations 'false, mischievous, scandalous, motivated and defamatory'.

In an article on HuffPost India, the woman, who calls herself 'an assistant', alleged that Hirani sexually abused her more than once between March and September 2018.

She detailed her allegations in an e-mail dated November 3, 2018, to Hirani's longtime collaborator and Sanju Co-producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra.


The woman said that on April 9, 2018, the director first passed a sexually suggestive remark to her and later 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",' she wrote of the April 9 incident in the e-mail to Chopra, as quoted by HuffPost India.

The woman said Hirani was a father figure for her.

'My mind, body and heart were grossly violated that night and for the next six months', the e-mail read.

Film critic Anupama Chopra, Chopra's wife who is a director at Vinod Chopra Films Pvt Ltd, Sanju scriptwriter Abhijat Joshi and film-maker Shelly Chopra, Chopra's sister, were also marked on the e-mail.

The complainant later spoke to HuffPost India that she was 'intimidated by Hirani', who was her reporting person at the time.

She said she maintained a facade of normalcy regarding Hirani's behaviour as she needed to hold onto her job as her father was suffering from a terminal illness.

'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.

Anupama Chopra had confirmed that the woman had shared an account with her, and that Vinod Chopra Films has since set up a committee to address complaints of sexual harassment.

'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,' Chopra said.

'We also offered to set up an Internal Complaints Committee 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 said in an e-mail dated December 5, 2018.

Anupama Chopra said the woman told her she needed time to think about how to take things 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.'

The development comes close on the heels of Hirani's name been dropped from the new poster and trailer of Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, directed by Shelly Chopra.

A still from the film's teaser, which released on June 27, 2018, carried Hirani's name as co-producer.

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