Veteran filmmaker Rajkummar Hirani, who is known to direct many acclaimed movies including Munnabhai series and PK, was recently accused of sexual assault by one of his assistant directors at the sets of his 2018 hit film, Sanju starring Ranbir Kapoor. However, Hirani has denied all such allegations.
Sanju released on June 19th, 2018 and earned over Rs. 586.85 crore
On Sunday, esteemed news daily HuffPost India featured an article about a woman, who worked as an assistant director with Hirani and claims that he sexually abused her more than once, over six-months between March and September 2018.
Soon after the article was published, Hirani issued a statement saying, "I was completely shocked when these allegations were brought to my notice about two months back. I had suggested immediately that it is essential to take this matter to any committee or any 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 woman made the charge in an email dated November 3, 2018 to Hirani's Sanju co-producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra. She also marked the mail to Vidhu's wife and film journalist Anupama Chopra as well as to Hirani's co-writer Abhijat Joshi, said the HuffPost India article.
Going by the report, much of the alleged abuse took place during the post-production phase of the movie and 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.”
On a related note, 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.
The Indian Movie Channel 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 TIMC to get in touch with her publicist. Hirani’s lawyer, Anand Desai, refused to comment.