Singer Shweta Pandit on Wednesday accused music composer Anu Malik of sexually harassing her when she was 15 years old. In a Twitter post, Pandit referred to Malik as a “paedophile”. Malik has called the allegations “ridiculous”.
The alleged incident took place in 2001, when Pandit visited Empire Studio in Mumbai’s Andheri to audition for Malik. “He was recording a group song with Sunidhi [Chauhan] and Shaan for the film Awara Paagal Deewana, when my mother and I walked in the monitor room,” Pandit wrote. “He told me to wait in the small cabin inside where singers sang at Empire Studio. It was just him and me there.”
Pandit said Malik asked her to sing any song without music. When she sang well, he allegedly said: “I’ll give you this song with Sunidhi and Shaan but first give me a kiss now.” Pandit said he smiled “the most evil grin I have seen” as he said this. “I went numb and pale in the face,” she added. “I was only 15 years old then, still in school.”
“Can anyone imagine what it felt like at that moment?” she asked. “It felt like someone had stabbed me in the stomach. I referred to this man as ‘Anu uncle’, he knew my entire family for decades,” she added.
Pandit told Scroll.in: “Young girls need to be warned and they should always be with a parent if they are young. I hope my experience helps new people and their families understand how damaging it can get.”
When asked for his reaction, Malik told PTI: “No comments. This is ridiculous. I don’t want to talk about it. Today anyone says anything.” However, his lawyer claimed that the #MeToo movement was being used for his client’s “character assassination”.
“The allegations made against my client are emphatically denied as completely false and baseless,” Zulfiquar Memon told the agency. “My client respects the #MeToo movement but to use this movement to start a character assassination mission is obnoxious.”
Pandit also thanked singer Sona Mohapatra for supporting her in a tweet. Mohapatra had alleged a week ago that Malik was a “serial predator”. She also accused singer Kailash Kher of sexually harassing her.
#MeToo in India
Since October 5, dozens of women, including actors and journalists, have taken to social media to give detailed accounts of the sexual harassment and misconduct they have faced.
It began with actor Tanushree Dutta alleging that colleague Nana Patekar had intimidated and harassed her on the sets of the 2009 film Horn ‘Ok’ Pleassss. She was sent two legal notices. While one was from Patekar, the other was from director Vivek Agnihotri, who allegedly asked her to take off her clothes and dance to give co-star Irrfan Khan his cues on the sets of Chocolate (2005).
Other Bollywood personalities accused of harassment include directors Vikas Bahl, Subhash Ghai and Sajid Khan. Anirban Blah, founder of talent agency KWAN Entertainment and who has managed actors like Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor in the past, stepped down following allegations of sexual harassment against him. Yash Raj Films sackedAshish Patil, a top executive at the company, with immediate effect.