It seems Bollywood and scandals go hand in hand. Recently, actor Shiney Ahuja was sentenced to seven years imprisonment by the sessions court for the rape of his 20-year old maid. The victim had filed a police complaint in June 2009 alleging rape at the hands of the actor following which the actor was arrested and then released on bail three months later. But last week, the sessions court found Shiney guilty despite the maid backtracking on her complaint.
For a man of his stature and being a public figure, the actor definitely crossed the border without thinking of the consequences. From an actor loved by his fans for his intense roles be it in ‘Gangster’ or ‘Woh Lamhe’, it’s one big downfall from grace for Shiney. But then he is not alone in this industry where crimes bordering on lusts occur frequently.
Who can forget the Shakti Kapoor sting operation carried out by a television channel a few years ago? The television channel had filmed the reel life villain on tape in which a journalist posing as a wannabe actress was purportedly asked for sexual favours in exchange for making it big in Bollywood. The act caused a big furor in the film industry which was divided on the casting couch syndrome. The industry stalwarts had both slammed the actor for his act as well the media for playing to the gallery by conducting the sting operation.
Ace director Madhur Bhandarkar who’s known for his hard hitting realistic films like ‘Page 3’, ‘Fashion’ among others too faced some embarrassment when he was accused of rape by another struggling actress Preeti Jain some seven years ago. Preeti had claimed in her police complaint that she had slept with the ace director over a period of five years in return for movie roles and also marriage to the director, neither of which came true. However, in the subsequent investigations, the charges proved false and Madhur Bhandarkar went to bed a happy man.
Before him, actor Aditya Pancholi was accused by his then girlfriend Pooja Bedi of raping her 15-year old maid. Though it was consensual sex, technically it amounted to rape as the maid was a minor then. Soon after she came to know about her boyfriend’s behavior, Pooja Bedi dumped him for ever. And the damage was done as the media splashed the news all over.
It wasn’t just actors like Pancholi who made the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Even yesteryear’s superstar Rajesh Khanna faced some allegation during the filming of ‘Anokha Rishta’ some 25 years ago. Sabia, a 15-year old actress and daughter of yesteryear’s actor Ameeta had then alleged of molestation at the superstar’s hands. After the media made hue and cry about it, the news and the young starlet finally faded into oblivion while the superstar walked away unscathed.
Even ace directors like Subhash Ghai and Raj Kumar Santoshi had to face some flak from a couple of actresses which however fizzled out slowly and gradually with reconciliations with the effected parties down the line. However, actors like Shiney Ahuja have not been lucky. Even Jacky Shroff at one point in his career, faced accusations from co-actor Farha of trying to molest her then 15-year old sister Tabu. Acclaimed actor Anupam Kher too was accused by a section of media of trying to molest actress Mamta Kulkarni’s sister. How far these accusations were true, only these actors can tell.
One can’t ignore the fact that at times accusations are raised for all the wrong reasons. More often it’s too gain some cheap publicity as had been the case in the Preeti Jain matter. A 15-minute walk of fame is all that she desired to make a splash in Bollywood. A little publicity never harms a person even it means putting one’s modesty at stake.
Television actor Aman Verma who shot to fame with his television serial ‘Kyon Ki… Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’, after a successful stint on television and then in films went on a downward sliding thanks to another sting operation conducted by the same television channel that nailed Shakti Kapoor. Within days after the Shakti Kapoor sting operation, Aman faced the camera in the company of the same journalist who acted like the aspiring star. The sting was successful. Aman bore the brunt. The rest is history.
However in recent times, scandals have not been restricted between men and women. A couple of months ago another director Onir who made thought provoking films like ‘My Brother… Nikhil’ and ‘Bas Ek Pal’ was accused by actor Yuvraaj Parashar of molestation! While Onir has denied the charges of forced molestation, Yuvraaj for that matter got his 15-minutes of fame after giving a dud in his last film ‘Dunno Y Na Jaane Kyon’ in which coincidently he played a gay character.
What makes these stars cross the line where modesty is concerned? How can they ignore the fact that they are public figures and any action on their part is minutely observed by the media and the public at large? If it’s the common man who puts them up on the pedestal, likewise it’s the common man himself who can bring them down in one go. And if you need that 15-minute fame, is putting your modesty at stake the right way to go forward? Whatever be the case, Bollywood is here to stay and such incidents will keep happening. How discreet the effected parties are will be all that matters after all, one does not need unwanted publicity. And if one does, how long can one sustain that15-minutes of fame? 20 minutes? 20 days…?