Filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani has been accused of sexual assault by a woman who worked with him on his 2018 movie Sanju. While Hirani has issued a statement denying the allegations, the woman, an “assistant” on the sets of Sanju, has, according to a report in HuffPost India, alleged that Hirani sexually abused her more than once between March and September 2018.
The report says that the woman assistant made her allegation in an email dated November 3, 2018, to filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who has been Hirani’s collaborator on a number of movies, including Sanju. The mail, says the report, was also marked to Anupama Chopra, Chopra’s wife and film critic who is also a director of Vinod Chopra Films Private Limited; Chopra’s sister Shelly Chopra Dhar, who is directing the upcoming Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga which Hirani was earlier producing with Chopra; and Hirani’s co-writer Abhijat Joshi.
The report says much of the alleged abuse happened during the post-production work of Sanju and that on April 9, 2018, Hirani first allegedly made a sexually suggestive remark and then assualted 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…’ My mind, body and heart were grossly violated that night and for the next 6 months,” the HuffPost report quotes the woman as saying in her email to Chopra.
Speaking to HuffPost, the woman says, “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.”
In his statement, Hirani denied the allegations. “I was completely shocked when these allegations were brought to my notice about two months ago. I had suggested immediately that it is essential to take this matter to any committee or legal body. The complainant has chosen to go to the media instead. I want to very strongly state that this is a false malicious and mischievous story being spread with the sole intention of destroying my reputation.”
The Indian Express tried to get in touch with Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra, but got no response until the time of going to the press. Anupama Chopra, when contacted, asked the Express to get in touch with her publicist. Hirani’s lawyer, Anand Desai, refused to comment.
Eyebrows were raised last week when Hirani’s name was removed as co-producer from the poster of Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga. Hirani was the co-producer, along with Chopra and Fox Star Studio, for the Sonam Kapoor-Rajkummar Rao starrer.
Hirani is the director of successful movies such as Munnabhai MBBS, 3 Idiots and PK.