Amidst the ongoing #MeToo movement, names powerful and shocking have been cropping up with several accusations of sexual misconduct, now very famous casting directors namely Mukesh Chhabra and Vicky Sidana, have been accused of sexually harassing aspiring actors! Here’s their Me Too story:
Following the fearless fight that Tanushree Dutta has put up against Nana Patekar, for sexually harassing her on the sets of Horn OK Please. Well, gave rise to a movement that was very much pending on the Bollywood industry. While famous and powerful names came forth alongwith thri dirty deeds, now it is time for casting directors Mukesh Chhabra and Vicky Sidana.
It was a budding actor, who auditioned for a role in 2015 for a mega budget film in Chhabra’s Aaram Nagar office, revealed his Me Too story that he “grabbed me hard and felt me up”. “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.”
This led to the girl leaving the industry and career entirely, went onto pursue a career in Bengaluru as an engineer.
Similarly, another anonymous budding artiste, has shared her phone conversation with Chhabra, ahead of the casting for a Varun Dhawan 2017 project. In the recorded phone conversation in possession of a leading daily, the casting director is heard stating, You’ll have to compromise, get physical with people in power.” When the woman expresses her being uncomfortable, Chhabra can be heard saying, “I am not promising that people ready to compromise get selected. Everyone is ready to compromise. It’s no big deal. We can meet at a hotel tonight.”
That’s not all, as another casting director Vicky Sidana, was also accused of sexual harassment by several people, one of the in talks with him for a role in a Neeraj Pandey film, recounted the horrible story of him groping his sister.
“Vicky was giving a gyaan session about how I won’t get offers if I don’t offer sex. When I stepped out for a photoshoot, he got chatting with my sister. He then pushed her on the couch and squeezed her breast, all the while muttering, ‘Actress kyun nahin ban jati.’ When I heard about it, I swore I would never see his face again.”
While, another aspiring actor recollected her own terrible experience of three years ago, when Sidana invited her over to his house to discuss a project. “The role in question needed me to have a pixie cut. He pulled my hair away from my face to see how I would look in short hair. Then, he grabbed me from the side and tried to hug me. I could feel his d*** hard against my thigh. I somehow managed to run out.”
Now, in their defense, when the two were contacted by a leading daily, “It has been years of hard work and I have been around in the industry. It is unfortunate that people are resorting to name calling and making wild allegations. Hard work and sweat cannot be erased by making false accusations. I deny any such incident took place. If anyone is indulging in rumour mongering and mischievous slandering, I will take every possible legal action to protect my reputation.”
On other hand, Sidana said, “I have never called anyone home. If I have, my wife would have been there. In any case, if someone is not naming themselves, how do I prove myself innocent? One has to understand, that as casting agents, we suffer the wrath of those we don’t cast. They harbour ill feelings towards us and this is an attempt to malign me. I have been working since nine years and have a certain reputation. Casting directors are harassed by budding actors; they send objectionable pictures and messages.”
Seems like the list is never-ending of the predators that have sexually harassed and abused the ones with no power to cry out for help. Alas, this #MeToo movement was definitely in the fates of Bollywood industry. We’re at a point where none of the names nor stories surprise us anymore, however this particular one got us disgusted and shocked! But, are we ever going to come around to punishing these power abusers sooner than later.