Sajid Was 'Vulgar' During Housefull Shoot Says Mahesh Bhupati. Thoughts, Akshay Kumar?

Mahesh Bhupati was visiting then-girlfriend, Lara Dutta, on the sets of Housefull, when he heard about Sajid Khan's bad behaviour.

Mahesh Bhupati spoke about the allegations of sexual harassment against Sajid Khan, by recounting an incident from when he was visiting his now-wife, Lara Dutta, on the sets of Housefull. Speaking as a part of a panel at Barkha Dutt’s We The Women initiative, Bhupati spoke about one of the days when Lara Dutta came back from her shoot, and complained about Sajid Khan’s misbehaviour with a co-star on set.

“She (Dutta) was shooting for Housefull and we were in London at that time. She would come home and her closest friend was her hair dresser and they both would be complaining about how one of her co-stars was being treated by the director (Sajid Khan). Rude, vulgar,” Bhupati said during his chat with Barkha Dutt.

Bhupati recounts telling his then-girlfriend that ‘all four of them’ were ‘complicit in enabling’ Sajid Khan’s bad behaviour on set, by not speaking up against it. The film starred Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh, Deepika Padukone, Arjun Rampal and Jiah Khan, apart from Dutta.

“I told her you guys are all complicit, all the four of you who were in the film (and) were listening to what he was saying and not telling him it’s not ok. So at some level you guys are complicit and she agreed,” Bhupati said about her chat with Dutta, that evening.

Mahesh Bhupati and Lara Dutta discussed the ‘ways of Bollywood’ considering that speaking up against such behaviour, could result in loss of work in what is already a hostile work environment for many women. But Bhupati signed off on his line of argument by saying, “If the fraternity decides to ostracise you, you don’t get work. But I don’t think it’s a good enough reason to let things like these slide.”

Dutta’s confession reveals that Sajid Khan’s bad behaviour (especially as director) is not the exception, but the rule. And to have big Bollywood stars like Akshay Kumar, turn a blind-eye to his director’s misdemeanour is especially disheartening. Kumar, who has turned around his career on the back of ‘issue-based’ cinema, has been deafeningly silent on the #MeToo movement and collaborating with tainted professionals. Kumar had gone ahead with the shoot of Housefull 4, and it was only after the ‘noise’ became ‘unmanageable’ with both Sajid Khan and Nana Patekar, is when both the director and the actor were dropped from the film.

Such selective posturing is why the #MeToo movement in Bollywood is having trouble spreading its wings. No one really wants to introspect and change, all they want to do is bow to a ‘trend’ and move on with the way things as they have been going on. As Mahesh Bhupati states, such abhorrent behaviour cannot be allowed to ‘slide’, and needs to be called out at every step.