#MeToo Movement: Rajkumar Hirani accused of sexual assault by assistant, director denies charges
Filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani has been accused of sexual assault by a female “assistant” who worked with him on his last film, Sanju.
In an article published in a leading news website, the woman claims to have written an email stating her allegation dated November 3, 2018, to filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who has been Hirani’s collaborator on Sanju. Her report says that much of the alleged abuse happened during the post-production of the film and on April 9, 2018, in Hirani’s home-office.
According to reports, the mail 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.
In her report, the woman also quoted her email to Chopra and said, “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.”
She further added, “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.”
Meanwhile, Hirani released a statement denying the allegations. In the statement, he said, “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.”
Anupama Chopra had confirmed that the woman had shared an account with her and that Vinod Chopra Films (VCF) has since set up a committee to address complaints of sexual harassment. Anupama said the woman told her she needed time to think about how to take things forward. "I did not want in any way to pressurise her or steer her in any direction. As Vinod and I told her then, she has our full support and we are fully respectful of whatever decision she has taken," she reportedly said to a leading media organisation.