Mahmood Farooqui acquitted in rape case: Know about the Peepli Live co-director | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Mahmood Farooqui acquitted in rape case: Know about the Peepli Live co-director

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent
Sep 25, 2017 04:59 PM IST

Mahmood Farooqui was held guilty of raping a US citizen by a sessions court in 2016 but the Peepli Live co-director challenged the guilty verdict in the Delhi high court.

Peepli Live co-director Mahmood Farooqui was acquitted on Monday on charges of raping a US researcher.

Bollywood movie Peepli Live's co-director Mahmood Farooqui.(HT File Photo)
Bollywood movie Peepli Live's co-director Mahmood Farooqui.(HT File Photo)

Farooqui (44) is best known for directing Peepli Live, a comedy that parodies political and media response to farmer suicides in India. The film was nominated for the 2011 Filmfare Best Film award and won the Star Screen Award for Best Ensemble Cast.

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The director, who hails from Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur, studied in the Doon School and graduated from the St Stephen’s College in New Delhi. He was then awarded the prestigious Rhodes scholarship and he went to the University of Oxford in Britain.

Farooqui researched for five years at the National Archives to pen his award-winning book, Besieged: Voices from Delhi 1857. The book, Farooqui wrote in the introduction, is a “record of the daily life of a city under siege, of the travails of the ordinary life”. He also worked as a researcher for a book authored by William Dalrymple.

Farooqui, with his uncle Shamsur Rahman -- a known Urdu poet and literary critic -- was actively involved in the revival of Dastangoi -- an 11th century performance art in which the narrator uses only his voice to tell epical tales, he told The Times of India in a 2011 interview.

“To initiate novice audiences, Farooqui charmingly elaborates on Dastangoi etiquette before each performance: He asks the audience to make eye contact with performers, refrain from clapping and express its appreciation verbally with variants of ‘Wah wah’ instead,” a Live Mint article said.

Mahmood Farooqui and Danish Hussain performing Dastangoi. (File Photo)
Mahmood Farooqui and Danish Hussain performing Dastangoi. (File Photo)

A Washington Post writer, Rama Lakshmi, desribed Farooqui in an article as “socially and intellectually influential” who “enacts stage performances about injustice, human rights and gender”.

The rape case

Farooqui allegedly forced himself on the Columbia University researcher during a party at his house in New Delhi in March 2015. According to the police, the complainant had approached Farooqui through a common contact for help with her thesis on Indian sects. She wanted information on the Gorakhnath sect in eastern UP. The woman said she became well-acquainted with him after a few meetings.

The woman returned to the US soon after the alleged rape and wrote an email to Farooqui, who apologised for “misbehaving” with her. She later approached the Delhi Police through diplomatic channels, returned to India and lodged a formal complaint on June 19, 2015.

Farooqui was convicted last year by a special fast track court in what was claimed to be the first rape case that recognised forced oral sex.

“This is perhaps one of the first cases of forced oral sex, which shows two things: that there was a crime for which we did not earlier have an offence named – now it has been recognised as rape,” Vrinda Grover, who was representing the complainant, told The Indian Express last year.

Farooqui immediately challenged the guilty verdict in the high court and his wife Anusha Rizwi, who also directed Peepli Live, said the complaint was “manipulated and false”.

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