- "I don't believe this allegation," said Boney Kapoor
- "I stand for Raju Hirani,' tweeted Sharman Joshi
- Rajkumar Hirani issued a statement on Sunday
Boney Kapoor defended filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations made against him and said that "Raj Kumar Hirani is too good a man to do something like this," reports news agency ANI. When the 63-year-old filmmaker was asked for his responses to the accusation of harassment against Rajkumar Hirani, Boney Kapoor told ANI: "I don't believe this allegation. He can never do something like this." Mr Hirani was implicated in sexual harassment allegations in a #MeToo account by a co-worker at his production house Rajkumar Hirani Films Private Limited, who has alleged that the filmmaker abused her over a period of six months, between March and September 2018, during the filming of Sanju. Apart from Boney Kapoor, Sharman Joshi, Dia Mirza and Arshad Warsi have also defended Rajkumar Hirani.
In a statement he issued on Sunday, Mr Hirani denied all the allegations levelled against him. "I was completely shocked when these allegations were brought to my notice about two months back. I had suggested immediately that it is essential to take this matter to any committee or any legal body. The complainant has chosen to go to the media instead. I want to very strongly state that this is a false, malicious and mischievous story being spread with the sole intention of destroying my reputation," read his statement.
Dia Mirza, who starred in Mr Hirani's 2006 film Lage Raho Munna Bhai and in 2018's Sanju, told news agency PTI: "I am deeply distressed by this news. As someone who has known and respects Raju sir for 15 years I can only hope that a due official enquiry is conducted. He is one of the most decent human beings I have ever worked with and I think it would be grossly unjust on my part to speak on this as I do not know the details. As for the #MeToo movement it rightfully encourages women to speak up and seek due process."
Sharman Joshi, who had worked with Rajkumar Hirani in the 2009 film 3 Idiots, also extended his support to the director and tweeted: "Raju Sir, is a man of immense integrity, character, honour, compassion and truthfulness, all the virtues one would imagine are non-existent in people today, someone I am absolutely inspired by and have learnt from and because of whom I believe I have gone onto being a better person. All I want to say is that this too shall pass and I can imagine how demeaning it might be to even stand up for yourself in a situation such as this." Sharman signed off the note saying, "I stand for Raju Hirani."
Meanwhile, when Emraan Hashmi was asked to comment on the allegations against the director, the Why Cheat India actor neatly dodged the question and said that it is "just" an allegation and it that nothing has been proven as of now. Emraan told ANI: "I don''t want to comment on this. It's just an allegation. Nothing has been proved as of yet. The director has already dismissed the allegations. Till the time something is not proven, I don't think it right to comment on this."
Rajkumar Hirani's alleged misconduct took place during the shooting of the 2018 film Sanju and was reported only recently. The woman who accused Mr Hirani in her #MeToo account, stated that she had "no choice but to be polite to him" and told Huffington Post: "I had no choice but to be polite to him. I was worried that if I left midway, it would be impossible to find another job in this industry if he were to speak badly about my work," the woman said. Because if Hirani said I wasn't good, everybody would listen. My future would be in jeopardy."
According to a Huffington Post report, the Sanju director's name was dropped from the posters of his forthcoming film Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga after he was called out as a sexual predator.
The #MeToo moment gained momentum in the Indian film industry after Tanushree Dutta revived a decade-old charge of sexual harassment against actor Nana Patekar last year. Several women from the film industry shared their #MeToo stories, as a part of which Bollywood celebrities such as Alok Nath, filmmaker Vikas Bahl, Housefull 4 director Sajid Khan, filmmaker Subhash Ghai, poet-lyricist Vairamuth and others were called out as sexual predators.