Rajkumar Hirani Under #MeToo Storm, Denies

RBN Web Desk: Rajkumar Hirani, the director of several blockbuster Hindi films like 3 Idiots, PK, and the Munna Bhai series, has been accused of sexual harassment by a woman who worked with him in Sanju. The film, directed by Hirani, was a biopic on actor Sanjay Dutt in which Ranbir Kapoor played the title role.

The #MeToo trend was triggered by African-American civil rights activist Tarana Burke as part of a campaign to encourage women to speak up against sexual abuse. Several people from the Indian film industry have since been accused of sexual abuse.

In a complaint which she emailed to producer-director Vidhu Vinod Chopra, his wife Anupama Chopra and screenwriter Abhijat Joshi, the woman alleged that Hirani sexually assaulted and abused her over six-months between March and September last year, much of which happened during the post-production work of Sanju. Vidhu Vinod’s sister Shelly Chopra has also been marked in the mail.

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Vidhu Vinod and Abhijat are the producer and writer of Sanju respectively. Anupama is a well known journalist and film critic and director of Mumbai Film Festival. Vidhu Vinod has produced most of Hirani’s films. Shelly is the director of the upcoming film Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga, which is produced by Vidhu Vinod.

In the email dated 3 November 2018, the woman said, Hirani made a sexually suggestive move on 9 April 2018. He later assaulted her sexually at his home-office. Her mind, heart, and body have been grossly violated since that night for the next six months. She pleaded with Hirani that what he was doing was wrong, to which the director turned a deaf ear, the woman said in her email.

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Asked by the media, why she did not leave the job, the woman said that she took great pains in concealing Hirani’s actions and in maintaining a facade of normalcy while working with him. The woman claimed that her father was suffering from a terminal illness and she badly needed the salary from her job.

Hirani, responding through his lawyer Anand Desai, has outright denied the allegations. Desai told the media that the allegations brought against his client are scandalous, motivated, mischievous, and defamatory.

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