The Shiney Ahuja verdict has left Bollywood’s jaws dropped. The 37-year-old actor, who was accused of raping his househelp in June 2009, has been convicted by a Mumbai sessions court and sentenced to seven years in jail. The industry is yet to come to terms with the verdict.
"The Shiney I know is very different. It saddens me to see such a gifted young life wasted behind bars, particularly when the victim had withdrawn all charges. Abhishek Kasliwal (also accused of rape) got away scot free on the same heinous charge. The price you pay for being famous, I guess," says filmmaker Pritish Nandy.
Film critic Taran Adarsh says, "The news has shocked the whole industry. His career has been affected beyond repair." Jahnu Baruah, director of Harr Pal, for which Ahuja was shooting before the case, says, "It is really unfortunate. But, there are higher courts where he can appeal ... let’s see what happens."
Some others think differently. "His High Court appeal might prove to be a silver lining, but the verdict has made it clear that no matter how mighty you are, you can’t get away," says filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt. Ahuja has three low-budget films waiting for release — Pritish Nandy’s The Accident, Tito Singh’s Harr Pal and Pooja Bedi’s Shunya.