Pyaar Ka Punchnama director Luv Ranjan accused of harassment, he calls claims ‘absurd’

Hindustan Times | ByHT Correspondent
Oct 12, 2018 12:13 PM IST

Pyaar Ka Punchnama director Luv Ranjan was sexually harassing an actor who had come for the auditons of Pyaar Ka Punchnama.

Director Luv Ranjan, who rose to fame with his films Pyaar Ka Punchnama and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, has been accused by an anonymous actor of sexual harassment. The incident reportedly occurred when the director was doing look tests for Pyaar Ka Punchnama, which the actor was asked to attend by Vicky Sidana, a casting director. Luv Ranjan, however, has denied all allegations and even called it absurd.

Pyaar Ka Punchnama director Luv Ranjan accused of sexual assault.
Pyaar Ka Punchnama director Luv Ranjan accused of sexual assault.

The anonymous woman said in an interview to Mid-Day, “It was 2010. I was 24, and had done two small roles in big movies opposite well-known actors, and was in the auditioning phase. I was called by Vicky Sidana, a casting director, who said that the auditions for Pyaar Ka Punchnama were on, and a very short list of girls had been called for them. I trusted him and hence, went for it. The dress code was a short skirt and a tight top, which was fairly common, and wasn’t a problem with me. There were seven to eight girls there, and the strange part was that they didn’t give us dialogues as they would usually ask you to enact the scene. This was supposedly only a look test.”

The woman was initially not worried as the set up suggested that it was an authentic audition. She added, “I was at Kumar Mangat’s office and Abhishek Pathak, his son, was the producer. I’m not sure whether or not he was present that day because I didn’t see him or interact with him. The director, Luv Ranjan, and the cinematographer were sitting in a room and calling the girls in one by one. The girl who went in before me came out with an ashen look and seemed uncomfortable. She hurriedly left. Then I went in. The room was properly lit for an audition and there was a proper camera set up, etc. They asked me to give an introduction, which was totally normal, totally legitimate.”

But then, things took a turn for the worse once the director asked her to strip to see if she had a suitable bikini body. The woman recalled, “Then, Luv Ranjan said there was a kissing scene and a bikini scene in the movie and asked if I was fine with that, to which I said yes. He said he wanted to see what I’d look like in a bikini. Later in life, when I gave another audition for a movie, there was a female stylist who gave me a bikini to do a look test in the presence of lots of people. Luv asked me to strip down to my bra and panties. He said he wanted to see my body so he could check if I needed to lose weight. He said they were not recording anything and the cinematographer would also leave the room, so I needn’t worry. After that, it all gets blurry. My heart was pounding and I rushed out saying I had to leave and wasn’t comfortable with it. I went home and tried to forget about it.”

The final straw that led to the actor leaving the audition was Luv Ranjan asking if she masturbates. “Then he asked me if I used condoms. The last straw was him asking me if I masturbate. By then, I was scared and asked if I could leave. He said I shouldn’t misunderstand him, and called the three guys into the room and asked them, ‘Do you trust me enough as a director, that if I were to ask you to drop your pants, you would?’

Speaking about the accusation, Luv Ranjan was quoted in the same report as saying, “It’s absurd. It’s so absurd that I don’t know what to say except that I deny it. I don’t know how to react to an anonymous allegation beyond this and am willing to face any legitimate enquiry.”

Me Too movement in India gained momentum after Tanushree Dutta accused actor Nana Patekar of sexual harassment while on the sets of 2008. Since then, Vikas Bahl, Piyush Mishra, Subash Ghai and Sajid Khan have been accused of sexually harassing women.

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