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HindustanTimes Sat,01 Nov 2014

Shruti Haasan attack: wake up, Bollywood

Hindustantimes.com  New Delhi, November 20, 2013
First Published: 16:27 IST(20/11/2013) | Last Updated: 10:48 IST(21/11/2013)

Shruti Haasan had no idea that she was being stalked before the man walked up to her house, rang the doorbell and tried to strangle her when she opened the door on Tuesday.

Used to obsessive fans who sometime cross the boundaries, stars in India often brush unwanted attention under the carpet. This is unlike their counterparts in the West (read Alec Baldwin, Madonna, Mila Kunis et al) who believe in pressing charges.

Controversy queen Poonam Pandey is no stranger to obsessive fan behavior. "While on a visit to Delhi recently, I was harassed by constant crank calls and some fans also banged on my room's door at night. This kind of behavior is repeated a number of times at all sorts of places."

The actor accepts that at times such behavior gets frightening. Then why has she never escalated it and involved the police? "I don't want to get involved in a police case. Mostly one doesn't have the time and as fans are involved, the police are also likely to ask me to reach a compromise," she says.

She believes that this kind of unwanted attention is part of being who she is - controversial and in the public sphere. So, how does she ensure her safety especially after the attack on Haasan proves that things can, and do, turn dangerous.

Poonam Pandey
"People who indulge in such behavior are just excited or fans who got carried away. In some cases they are also plain psycho and I ensure that I always stay extra vigilant. I travel with security, and even insist that my bodyguard gets a room close by and is always available on call," Poonam says.

However, vigilance can only go so far. US actor Rebecca Schaeffer, famous for her role in the CBS sitcom My Sister Sam, was fatally shot in 1989 by obsessed stalker Robert John Bardo. Schaeffer's death prompted the passage of anti-stalking laws in California.

Monica Seles was stabbed in 1993 by a fan of Steffi Graf who was upset that the tennis star had usurped the number one title from the German star.

Back home in Bollywood, there have been enough instances of celeb stalking. John Abraham lodged a complaint against a male stalker in October this year. John said in his complaint that the man was harassing him and his parents with constant phone calls.

Shahid Kapoor was stalked by the daughter of yesteryear actor Raaj Kumar, Vastavikta Pandit in 2012. The actor didn't press charges.

After the success of The Dirty Picture and Kahaani, Vidya Balan was also stalked by a young man who managed to enter her house. The actor's spokesperson told a newspaper, "He managed to get into her flat and asked the domestic help if Vidya had gone to meet her niece and nephew." While the police was called, the case was not pursued.

Sushmita Sen received expensive gifts, including bridal attire, wedding accessories and cosmetics from a crazed fan in 2008. The man also wrote her letters and threatened to kill her if she refused his proposal. The actor had to file a police complaint.

Model Jahanvi Kapoor slashed her wrists before Abhishek Bachchan's marriage to Aishwarya, claiming to be his wife. The police took her away but no case was registered as she was found to be mentally unstable.

Katrina Kaif was also frightened by an obsessed fan who landed at her doorstep in 2009. Though he was turned away, the man was spotted making rounds of her residential area, leading to police's intervention.

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