On 20 October, 11 pm, 24-year-old Keenan Santos and 28-year-old Reuben Fernandes came out for ‘paan’ after dinner with five friends at Andheri restaurant Amboli Kitchen And Bar. An altercation with a drunk 25-year-old Jeetendra Rana followed, since he was allegedly harrassing Keenan’s girfriend Priyanka Fernandes. Rana returned with 20 friends and in the fight that followed, Keenan was stabbed to death. Reuben succumbed to his injuries 13 days later.
Chitrangda Singh, whose forthcoming film 'Inkaar' deals with sexual harrassment, is as distraught as everyone else. Having grown up in Meerut and Delhi, she’s no stranger to eve-teasing. “Uttar Pradesh is the worst place for a woman showing any signs of independence,” she admits. “The floating population seems to have reached cosmopoliton metros like Mumbai and Delhi too. Having sold off their land, these newly rich guys are on an aggressive power trip that includes showing a woman her place.”Rana has been arrested on charges of murder and attempt to murder among others, along with Sunil Bote (20), Satish Dulgaj (35) and Deepak Tival (19). The case has sparked off media attention and public outrage. A Facebook group campaigning for justice has more than a lakh listed, the issue is trending on Twitter and an online petition will be sent to the State Home Minister of Maharashtra RR Patil.
While the vociferous campaign to punish the killers has Chitrangda’s vote, she points out that ‘change’ will come not from carrying banners and shouting slogans, but through education. “Unless we are able to change the mindset of these people on gender equations, women will always be in danger,” she asserts. “It is easier to prove rape than sexual harrsmment. How do you run down a man for staring at you during a meeting and making you uncomfortable?”
Inkaar, directed by Sudhir Mishra, whips up a cauldron of emotions sparked off by ambition and coloured by the power that it brings. “Today, it’s fashionable to be ambitious, it justifies everything, right or wrong. But in the race to the top, you can lose more than you gain, including love, as these two people (played by Arjun Rampal and her) realise,” Chirtrangada points out.
Even though ambition is a given in show business, the actor describes herself as an ‘emotional fool’ who let her heart rule over her head when passion and profession overlapped, and took a four-year break.
She’s back now with Desi Boyz, her first full-on commercial film, in which she’s definitely not a ‘desi’ girl. “I thought after eight years I’d try doing a ‘masala’ movie and my director (Rohit Dhawan) seems happy with my work,” she smiles. “It’s taken a while, but things are slowly falling into place.”