One more famous name from Bollywood has been added to the list of people accused of sexual misconduct. Three women have narrated their ordeal of being sexually harassed by director Sajid Khan. Actress Rachel White, assistant director Saloni Chopra and a journalist have all come out with their Me Too stories of being sexually harassed.
Saloni wrote a blogpost, detailing the harassment she faced at his hands. The director apparently asked her inappropriate questions about how many times she would masturbate in a day or if she would consider getting a breast job. “Slowly, he started calling at really odd hours. If I didn’t pick up I was told it didn’t matter to him if I was shitting or showering or having sex, when he called — I had to answer. I was petrified. The calls started coming at 12 am and 2 am,” she wrote.
Horror stories that come out of Bollywood are often open secrets and Saloni laments that the media often fails at reporting the truth. “Industries like these help because they are in the limelight. The media doesn’t always want to cover it when it’s your father or your uncle, and that’s the harsh truth. But the fact that famous people are being named, is supposed to give you the courage to speak up,” she wrote in her blog.
In a tweet, Rachel recounted how Sajid had asked her to strip during the making of ‘Humshakals’. “I was in a white vest and blue denims and still felt I was standing nude with that gaze. What happens next is that he finishes his cardio and walks up to me asking me about my b**bs and making that kind of conversation. I didn’t bother to answer to anything,” she tweeted.
I was in a white vest and blue denims and still felt I was standing nude with that gaze. What happens next is that he finishes his cardio and walks up to me asking me about my boobs and making that kind of conversation. I didn’t bother to answer to anything.
— Rachel White (@whitespeaking) October 11, 2018
Journalist Karishma Upadhyay also told her story on Twittter. She wrote, “Sajid Khan has preyed on women in the industry for years. Her’s my story #MeToo. The first time I interviewed Sajid Khan in the early 2000s, he called me to the house he shared w/ his sister. Thru the interview he talked about how large his penis is & how he knew how to satisfy a woman.”
— YellowGlassDragon (@karishmau) October 11, 2018
Sajid also released a statement on Friday. “In the wake of the allegations against me & the pressure being put on my family, my producer n the stars of my film Houseful4, i must take the moral responsibility of stepping down from my directorial post, till the time i can allay the allegations and prove the truth.. I request my friends in the media to kindly not pass judgment till the truth is out.”
— Sajid Khan (@SimplySajidK) October 12, 2018
Farah Khan, Sajid Khan’s sister, also released a statement soon after:
This is a heartbreaking time for my family.We have to work through some very difficult issues. If my brother has behaved in this manner he has a lot to atone for.I don’t in any way endorse this behavior and Stand in solidarity with any woman who has been hurt.
— Farah Khan (@TheFarahKhan) October 12, 2018
In 2011, actress Sayali Bhagat was the first to accuse Sajid of sexual harassment. She had said, “I remember the time when Sajid Khan was casting for Housefull, he had called me to his office for a meeting. I understand that the casting couch is a prevalent reality in the film industry but I never expected Sajid to strip naked in front of me asking me to have sex with him in his office right there and then. I screamed and left his building. Obviously, I never worked with him.”
In her Medium post, Saloni also named ‘Kuch Bheege Alfaaz’ actor Zain Durrani. She talked about the abusive relationship she had with him and wrote, “The man that everybody thought was the worlds most amazing boyfriend, was a completely different person when we were alone. I don’t even remember the first time he ever hit me. Sometimes I think it happened at a halloween party in Bandra, when the management tried to kick him out. But then I think, it was in my bedroom one night? The memories of how it started are blur and painful to extents I cannot explain in words.”
Saloni also called out director Vikas Bahl of ‘Queen’ fame for making sexist comments. “We started talking and I told him more about myself when he turns and says ‘You’re in the wrong profession. Go become an activist or something if you want to save women, why try to become an actress? I wouldn’t hire an actress with so many opinions and things to say. Like shut up and just smile’,” she recounted.
A section of Bollywood has taken a strong stand against sexual misconduct. Hrithik Roshan recently refused to work with Bahl after allegations of sexual harassment and assault were levelled against him. Aamir Khan stepped away from ‘Mogul’, the Gulshan Kumar biopic that was supposed to be directed by Subhash Kapoor, who faces sexual harassment charges. Akshay Kumar, on Friday, claimed to have asked ‘Housefull 4’ makers to halt production due to charges against Nana Patekar.