Leading Bollywood studio Fox Star Studios suspended director Mukesh Chhabra from its production Kizie aur Manny on Friday following allegations of sexual harassment against him. In a report published in Mid-Day on October 13, two unnamed women accused Chhabra of misbehaving with them when they came to him for auditions. Chhabra, who is among Hindi cinema’s best-known casting directors, has been asked to step aside until his company’s Internal Complaints Committee concludes its investigation into the allegations.
Chhabra denied the allegations, calling them “wild” and “name calling”. He told Mid-Day, “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.”
Chhabra has worked as a casting director for such films as Gangs of Wasseypur (2013), Chennai Express (2013), Haider (2014), Highway (2014), Tamasha (2015) and Dangal (2016). Kizie Aur Manny is his directorial debut. The film, a remake of Josh Boone’s The Fault in Our Stars, has Sushant Singh Rajput and Sanjana Sanghi in the lead roles and is scheduled for a 2019 release.
Apart from Chhabra, Singh Rajput has been fielding allegations that he harassed Sanghi on the movie’s sets. In his defence, Rajput released a series of tweet allegedly sent to him by Sanghi, claiming that he is the target of a “curated and well timed smear campaign”.