Since the time Tanushree Dutta came out with details of harassment she faced on the sets of a 2008 film, Horn OK Pleassss, at the hands of veteran actor Nana Patekar, scores of women have spoken up in what is being seen as India’s #MeToo.
Well, not only women coming forward with their stories but men too.
Recently, late actress Pratyusha Banerjee’s boyfriend Rahul Raj Singh shared a horrifying sexual harassment encounter that he faced in initial years of his career.
Rahul accused writer-producer Mushtaq Shiekh of sexually harassing him. He said, he met Mushtaq in 2006, when he was a model and was looking for a big break into acting. “I was the Grasim Mr India model in 2004, when I was 19 years old. A couple of years later, I came in contact with Mushtaq Shiekh. Mushtaq was a very powerful person in Bollywood then. [He was] someone who was on first-name basis with Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Farah Khan and Ekta Kapoor. He seemed to be impressed with me. I was glad because I realised I would get work.”
“One night, he called me at 11 pm near his house. He took me to his house, which had a single room, a bed and a lot of film posters. He told me, ‘I am going to do something to you which you are going to enjoy. It will be different, but you will like it’. I got scared. I told him, ‘I know your family. I am not against your preferences, but I am your friend and every relationship is not about sex. He said, ‘Don’t worry, next time you will be ready’. I left, and lost the film at Mukta Arts,” he said.
After refusing his offer, Rahul had to face a lot of rejections in TV industry. “I was chosen for a TV serial called Amber Dhara. I was popular as the first blind hero on national television. Then I got a call from Mushtaq, telling me that he was the one who had chosen me for the role. That destroyed my confidence and self-belief. Then I was signed up for another show called Mata Ki Chowki. He extended his offer again, that I could sleep with him to keep my job, but I refused. My character was written out of the show soon.” Rahul said.
He recounted another traumatic encounter where Mushtaq allegedly sexually assaulted him. “During another show called Ganesh Leela, Mushtaq’s roving eye caught me again. He told me to meet him at night for a drive. We were on a drive in Aarey Milk Colony when he suddenly grabbed my head [towards him] and started unbuttoning me [Rahul’s clothes]. I got very angry and upset, and told him that I would stop the car and leave him in the middle of the jungle.”
As this continued, Rahul Raj claims he eventually left TV 10 years ago. “I used to earn around Rs 3-4 lakh per month in those days. I owe answers to my friends and fans as to why I quit TV. It was because of Mushtaq Shiekh. I told my parents the same thing 10 years ago: I can’t do this, because I will be forced to sleep with someone,” he said in the report. Mushtaq Sheikh is yet to respond to the claims.