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Daisy Irani, Farhan Akhtar’s aunt and famous child star of 1950s, says she was raped

Daisy Irani spoke about how she was raped as a child more than 60 years ago. What prompted her to do so now? It’s isn’t her #MeToo moment really. Rather, it is presence of so many children on movie and television sets these days that made her speak about her experience.

bollywood Updated: Mar 23, 2018 16:32 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Farhan Akhtar,Daisy Irani,Farah Khan
Daisy Irani was among the most popular child stars of the 1950s.(Youtube Grab)

The dark side of Bollywood rarely comes out, but does so once in a while. Child star of the 1950s, Daisy Irani, who happens to be the maternal aunt of actor-filmmaker Farhan Akhtar and director Farah Khan, has opened up about how she was raped, aged 6, by her guardian.

Narrating her story to Mumbai Mirror, Daisy said the incident happened when she, as a child star, was at the outdoors in Madras (now Chennai), shooting for a film called Hum Panchhi Ek Dal Ke (1957). It may be recalled that as a child actor, Daisy, was much sought after and had starred in many iconic films such as Dilip Kumar, Vyjayanthimala starrer Naya Daur (1957), Raj Kapoor produced Boot Polish (1954) and Raj Kapoor, Nargis starrer Jagte Raho (1956; written by the legendary Khwaja Ahmad Abbas).

The Mumbai Mirror reported that it has taken Daisy nearly 60 years to speak about the incident. However, this is not #MeToo moment for her. It is, in fact, the presence of many child actors today — be it in movies or TV shows — that has prompted her to open up about her ordeal.

In October 2017, following a series of accusations of rape, sexual assault, misconduct and harassment against Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein, a hashtag termed #MeToo, began trending on social media to enable people to come forward and recount their experiences.

Speaking about the incident, the veteran actor told the tabloid, “The man who did this was supposed to be my guardian. He accompanied me to a film shoot (Hum Panchhi Ek Dal Ke) in Madras. One night in the hotel room he violated me, hit me with a belt and warned me that he would kill me if I ever told anyone about what had happened.” The actor, who was barely six, believed him, the report adds.

Daisy Irani with Dilip Kumar and Vyjayanthimala in Naya Daur.

She went on to say how it was her mother who goaded her into acting at a tender age of four. Not only Daisy, but her sisters, Honey and Meneka, too stepped into the movie world. “Thanks to our mother, Perin, our lives, when we were kids, resembled a never-ending black comedy,” she told Mumbai Mirror.

Narrating further, Daisy said, “That man is dead and gone. His name was Nazar. He was related to the famous singer Zohrabai Ambalewaali. Obviously, he had contacts in the film industry. My mother was hell-bent on making me a star. I made my debut in the Marathi movie, Baby. So Uncle Nazar (she rolls her eyes here) had accompanied me to the shoot of Hum Panchhi Ek Dal Ke in Madras. I can recall the incident only in flashes, but I do remember the killing pain, and the visual of him belting me. The next morning, I was back at the studio as if nothing had happened. For years, I couldn’t dare to tell my mother about what he had done.”

Reacting to his aunt’s revelation, Farhan Akhtar said he was heartbroken on reading the article.

Tweeting on Friday, he said: “Heartbroken upon reading this article but proud that my aunt #DaisyIrani spoke up. It’s tragic to see parents push their kids to breaking point in order to achieve success vicariously through them. This should serve as wake up call for the film & TV industry. Be aware. Be warned.”

Among others who reacted to the news was industrialist Anand Mahindra. Taking to Twitter, he wrote: “I start my day with anger. Enormous rage against men who prey on children. #DaisyIrani I commend you for sharing your story. I pray for every child & woman in this country to be granted the courage to come forward and point a finger at the Rakshasas amongst us.”

Daisy Irani as a child actor in Hum Panchchi Ek Daal Ke.

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First Published: Mar 23, 2018 11:32 IST