Face hidden in a black veil, bare feet, with gunmen by his side, actor Shiney Ahuja emerged before the Andheri magistrate-court in suburban Mumbai on Sunday. It could’ve been a scene straight out one of his gangster thrillers. Except, this was for real.
Ahuja, in a cream tee, jeans and a salt-n-pepper stubble, was sent off to police custody until June 18 on charges of raping and intimidating his maid. The girl’s age has been variously quoted between 18 and 20.
The 36-year-old actor had been detained the night before by the local Oshiwara police. He had claimed having had consensual sex with his domestic help.
The alleged rape is said to have taken place between 2 and 5 pm at Tarapore Gardens, a posh housing complex in Andheri, where Ahuja lives. His daughter Arshiya (2) and wife Anupama Pandey were reportedly not home.
His wife was next to him, however, at the court on Sunday. They spoke to each other in actions, and he broke into tears. Later, Anupama defended her husband before a television station, claiming the episode was a frame-up.
“He is completely innocent. We will stand by him. We love him. He is a man of character,” she said.
Many of Ahuja’s colleagues in the film industry also expressed shock at the charges leveled against him.
The actor had made his debut with a little-known erotic drama Sins in 2005. Ahuja played a Catholic priest who obsessively falls in love with a much younger girl. He was noticed in Sudhir Mishra’s Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi the same year, a sure-fire critical success that won him all mainstream debutant trophies at film award rounds in 2006.