The #MeToo movement in India is gathering momentum with each passing day. The movement has rocked Bollywood, with influential names like Nana Patekar, Vikas Bahl, Alok Nath, Subhash Ghai and Rajat Kapoor under the scanner. Recently, assistant director of Sajid Khan, Saloni Chopra shared her dreadful experience of working with him.
Sajid Khan is known for his films such as Housefull and Humshakals. Incidentally, he is the brother of another famous director, Farah Khan. After years of being silent, the actress has now come forward and accused Sajid Khan of sexual harassment. Actress Saloni Chopra, who was once an assistant to Sajid, wrote in a long post for a website that she faced sexual and mental harassment from the director for several months.
Here’s what she has posted:
This goes back to 2011, when I had barely just moved to India properly and wanted to assist a director to learn more about film making, and my first ever experience, was the most awful experience of my life. Unfortunately, I was naive and had no idea how to handle it at the time. He was famous for his interview questions. He asks questions like ‘do you masturbate?’ and ‘how many times a week?’… he also asked me if I’d ever been sexually abused, I said yes. Then he asked weird questions like if I would ever get a breast job, and talked about how sex is really a mental connection. Of course he went into a philosophical rant about our human bodies and it’s desires and how sorry he felt for people who had to go through abuse (not the only man who’s said this shit before they take advantage of you, it’s quite common) by the end of the interview I was in tears, and I wasn’t entirely sure why. I didn’t know if it was because I felt somewhat uncomfortable around him, or because I’d opened up too much.
I got the job.
When I first started working for Sajid, he said I was a ‘director’s assistant’ and not an ‘assistant director’ which apparently meant that I’d have to do his work directly. I was okay with that. Slowly, he started calling at really odd hours. If I didn’t pick up I was told it didn’t matter to him if I was shitting or showering or having sex, when he called — I had to answer. I was petrified. The calls started coming at 12 am and 2 am. He said the industry never sleeps and work happens at all hours… except he wasn’t talking about work. He’d ask me what I’m wearing or what I ate. He’d ask me to send him my bikini photos because he needed to know how I looked if I wanted to become an actor.
Eventually, that turned into mental and emotional torture. For months, he mentally abused me and I would cry myself to sleep every night. He’d tell me I wasn’t sexy enough to be an actress. I didn’t have it in me, I didn’t have the ‘oomph’ factor. I talked too much. I didn’t sit properly. I wasn’t alluring or girly enough. Said he wanted to take me under his wing and make me an actress. Cast me in his next movie, but only if I was prepared for it. A part of me wanted it so bad that I kept working for him, and excusing his behaviour whenever I could. He’d say horrible, horrible things about his supposed girlfriend at the time, who also happened to be one of the kindest, nicest women I’d ever met in the industry. I wondered why she was with a man like that. He’d gloat about how he made her who she is today, and he could train me too. Then he’d go onto describe their sex life in ways I didn’t need to know, and also remind me about his one vagina problem. He’d talk about his dick and how big it apparently is and his sexual needs. He would ask me to touch his dick and get irritated with me when I said I didn’t want to. This one time, during a costume trial for a character in the movie he came in to see the girl in the outfit and asked her to lift her skirt and show her ass to him, she looked at me confused and I asked Sajid if it was necessary. She lifted her skirt and he started insulting her telling her she didn’t have any breasts or any ass, how did she think she’d become an actress? Then he asked me to leave the room and let them talk, and I did. It made me sick, but I clearly hadn’t had enough to quit.
You can read the full post here:
Besides Saloni Chopra, two other women have spoken about the harassment they faced at the hands of Sajid. These include actor Rachel White and a journalist.