Star India suspends director Mukesh Chhabra from Kizie Aur Manny due to sexual harassment allegations
Bollywood casting director Mukesh Chhabra, who was set to make his directorial debut with Kizie Aur Manny, has been suspended from the film following accusations of sexual harassment. The film’s studio, Star India, shared a statement saying it takes allegations of sexual harassment of women at workplace ‘very seriously’.
Fox Star India shared a statement on Twitter on Friday. “As a responsible organization, Star India takes any allegation of sexual harassment of women at workplace very seriously hence Fox Star Studios has suspended the services of Mukesh Chhabra, director of our film, Kizzie Aur Manny, which is under production, till the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of M/s Mukesh Chhabra Casting Company concludes its inquiry into the allegations against him,” it read.
Mukesh has been accused of sexual harassment by two women. A Mid-Day report has accounts of unnamed women who claim they were harassed during auditions. “He asked me to enact a scene which had the hero and the heroine hugging each other. Under the pretext of showing me how the scene should be performed, he grabbed me hard and felt me up. I could feel his hand on my butt. I was shell-shocked and immediately withdrew. He realised [my trepidation] and started vehemently apologising. At one point, he said, I thought you were fine with it because other girls are,” the report quotes a budding actor as saying who left the film industry, traumatized by the incident.
The report said that in another phone conversation, whose recording is with the newspaper, Chhabra can be heard telling another artiste that “you will have to compromise, get physical with people in power.”
Chhabra had dismissed the allegations and tweeted a letter that read, “It is very unfortunate that years of hard work and building is been muzzled with a series of unsubstantiated wild anonymous allegations. To put it into perspective, we have a ICC committee put into the place for years and we could have appreciated if the complaint received could have been forwarded to the said committee for probe and investigation.” Going on to say that the report aims to “sensationalise”, the letter said, “This is a clearly motivated piece and we deny any incident as alleged took place.”
On Friday, the Kizie Aur Manny’s lead acter Sushant Singh Rajput also clarified rumours that he had misbehaved with his co-star Sanjana Sanghi. He shared screenshots of their text conversation and wrote, “I feel sad to reveal personal information but it seems that there is no other way to state what was, in the midst of this curated and well timed smear campaign. From the first till the last day of the shoot, this is what happened on the Set with Sanjana.”
Mukesh also supported Sushant on Twitter. “I totally stand by @itsSSR - no such incident happened on the sets and let’s not have a Twitter trial and make an innocent person suffer for somebody else’s ulterior motives I had clarified this on twitter long back and I still maintain it ,” he wrote in his tweet.
The film is a remake of 2014 Hollywood hit, The Fault In Our Stars.
The #MeToo movement in India started after actor Tanushree Dutta in September recalled an unsavoury episode with veteran actor Nana Patekar from the sets of Horn OK Pleassss in 2008. After that, a slew of controversies surrounding Vikas Bahl, Sajid Khan, Subhash Ghai, Chetan Bhagat, Kailash Kher, Rajat Kapoor and Alok Nath have emerged.
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