Vipul Shah accused of sexual harassment

In a not-so shocking news, two actresses have accused Vipul Shah of sexual harassment. When the #MeToo movement was gaining fire in Mumbai, Vipul came out and spoke in support of this movement. Someone then mentioned how his time is next and it turned out to be true. Vipul turned out to be that fox, who dressed up as little riding hood’s grandma. Vipul is quite known for his ways in Bollywood, he is no stranger to any of the allegations that have been dropped on him. It was a well-known fact that he was together with his ‘Commando’ heroine. She was with him for quite a while and she actually sat waiting for ‘Commando 2’ to happen. Eventually, she gave up and tried to move on to other prospects. Vipul Shah and Akshay Kumar were quite close. Khiladi Kumar used to do most of his films, probably around 6 films from 2002 to 2014. For some reason now, they are not really that close and Akshay even refused to give Vipul the ‘Namaste London’ title by saying that he might want to act in the film’s sequel later on.

The two actresses, who have come forward with their stories are quite known. They were both in the recent Netflix hit, ‘Sacred Games’. Here’s why and how Vipul Shah has been accused of sexual harassment:

 

Elnaaz Norouzi, an Iranian actress

I came to Mumbai and faced a lot of sh*t. I met him (Vipul Shah) during [the pre-production of the film] Namaste England. My manager informed me that Parineeti Chopra was playing the main lead. And I could be cast as the second lead.

Vipul had offered the role to Jacqueline (Fernandes), who had let it pass. He met me, and I was surprised that in the first (quick) meeting itself, he spoke as if we were going ahead with it (the offer). “We just need to do a look-test, and sign papers,” he said, making it (contract) sound like a formality. I hadn’t even auditioned for the film. It was weird because things like these take time.

A few days later, he made me do an audition with (casting director) Honey Trehan, which wasn’t even for an actual scene. I woke up at 6 am, reached Versova beach; was made to do a few natural scenes, just being myself. The casting director, it seemed to me, had not even been briefed.

Vipul got back saying this isn’t what he wanted. I met him again in his office, and again he mentioned, “We will sign the papers over the next couple of days.” This time, when we were saying bye, he came on to me. It was too close for comfort. I didn’t get the right vibe. He gave a peck on my face. I didn’t expect it. I called up my manager after this to say, “Vipul is serious. He wants to sign the papers. Get in touch with him and go ahead.” For days, I kept chasing my manager, who told me that Vipul wasn’t getting back.

(Norousi’s former manager, who wishes to stay anonymous, when contacted independently by mid-day, corroborated the fact that the casting deal was nearly done, and then had fallen through, for no apparent reason) When I asked Vipul, he said he wanted to conduct another audition. Basically, I went through six rounds of auditions for the film, and he made me feel like the planet’s worst actor. My confidence was shattered. I kept feeling like I was auditioning, and not cracking the part. It was only later I realised that this was his way of calling me to his office, over and over again, to get closer to me.

The next time we met at his office, he tried to kiss me. I backed off, said, “What are you doing? We are in your office!” I pushed him away, being affirmative; but careful enough not to come across as rude, because I really wanted the film.

Vipul didn’t apologise, though I hoped he had understood (the point). During this time, I had asked him about when we were starting (the film). He told me we would begin the Punjab schedule, followed by a London schedule, and that I didn’t have any work in the former, only the latter. He wanted me to get familiar with (lead actors) Arjun (Kapoor) and Parineeti (Chopra). So he told me that he would make sure that I get to go to Punjab, when they shoot the (film’s) first schedule as well.

We did another set of auditions. Again, he said he needed to look at them, see if he can do workshops with me, after which, I would be ready (for the role). (During this meeting), once more, he tried to touch me inappropriately. I said I was unwell, and that I had to leave. I left the country thereafter to promote a film of mine. When I returned, and got in touch with Vipul, he called me over to Patiala. It was a five-hour drive from Amritsar. I did another audition there, in his presence. We were staying on the same hotel-floor. After the audition, we went up together. I asked him about when I could hear the (film’s) story. He had always avoided narrating it thus far.

This time, he said, “Come to my room. I will make you hear the script.” At this point, he touched my butt, and dragged me towards himself. I dodged him, went to my room, and sat there wondering if I should just give in. When I got a message from his assistant to come down for dinner, I thought everything was normal. But I felt there was something weird about him at the table.

(One of the associates working on Namaste England, when independently contacted by mid-day, confirmed that Norousi was in Patiala for no apparent reason. Shah was merely considering her for the part. She was never on-board. The associate claimed that Shah hadn’t liked Norousi’s audition tapes much. And, yet, she was a part of the film’s recce).

For two months after this, I would wake up anxiously every morning, waiting for a text back from Vipul, on when I’d be signing (the contract). He kept delaying it. In the meantime, I had cracked (a part in the Netflix series) Sacred Games. They were keen to sign me up.

At that point, I took the offer to Vipul. He said that he would launch me in a big way. It was a girl-next-door part in Namaste England, and that he was clear he would not be able to cast me, as a result of Sacred Games, and that I should skip the offer, since they would make me do nude scenes. I was ready to let go of Sacred Games, when a friend of mine made me go back to Phantom, and ask them what my scenes were going to be like. I told Vipul that I had no (nude) scenes in Sacred Games, and that I had read the script.

He kept asking me to skip (the offer). He still had not signed a contract with me for Namaste England. I was mentally tortured for three months. It was evident that if I slept with Vipul, I would get the part. Every time I went to his office, he tried (to hit) on me. He (would) inappropriately touch me, and (try to) kiss me.

I want these men to stop doing this, because they think they have enough power to do so. He used my vulnerabilities to ensure that I give in. I almost agreed, at one point in Patiala, when I was away from home and family. I could see that it was a big offer. Thankfully, I had realised that the part was way smaller than how he was projecting it (to be). I wouldn’t have been on posters, and in songs. I could have broken (down), and given in. I used the time to understand his tactics instead.
I didn’t take the matter to the police, because as a foreigner, I didn’t know enough about my rights. And I strongly believe in karma. I know this happens to women everywhere, not just in Bollywood. No one wants to jeopardise their jobs.

The police would (probably) laugh at me. Vipul is a stronger figure. I am a foreign national. They could create visa issues for me. I have had it hard enough here, already. So I was scared. I was happy that Sacred Games came my way, and I could pull myself out of months of depression over not bagging Namaste England. If I was such a bad actor, then how come they (Phantom/Netflix) hired me?

It’s okay to be attracted to someone, and do something consensually. But this is coercing someone to get physical. It would have been okay if he had approached me saying, “Hey, I like you, but film won’t work out.”

But this was his way of keeping me hanging in there, so I give in, and he gets to take advantage of his power β€” being a big director. It (the episode) took me to dark places. It was funny when his guys (recently) called me back, saying they loved me in Sacred Games, and wanted me to do Commando 3. I let it pass. No woman should have to succumb and submit to get work.

The only reason I am sharing this is because I want these kinds of disgusting people to stop misusing their power. There are many like Vipul. There shall be more stories, if we see that things don’t change.

 

Kubra Sait, actress

Vipul Shah accused of sexual hara

 

Vipul Shah accused of sexual hara

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11 Responses

  1. Rashmi says:

    I think these men have nothing to fear. they have money, power, they can use influential connections to come up with their β€œinnocence”, we see this as an example of Vikas Bahl, who despite the incontestable facts of his guilt, proves his innocence in court with the help of an influential patron. so will be with everyone. Bollywood is too dirty a place where nothing will ever change

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    • Tina says:

      This is not the first time I have seen you comment this way. That men are powerful and Bollywood will not change. Makes me wonder if you want to encourage change or discourage it.

      If it was true that nothing can change, India would not be a free country, Sati would not be banned, women would not be going to schools and you and I wouldn’t even be capable of writing comments here.

      Change comes, and comes slowly. Meanwhile, how about supporting the victims, keeping faith, not letting this tempo die down? How about we support more education among women, more financial independence for women, fight to tighten law and its application in sexual harassment cases? How about we make sure it’s on election platforms and that we will vote against parties that support such men? How about we stop watching movies made by them, and stop buying products sold by them? How about we do this consistently, not just this year but also the next and the next after that and after….

      What say?

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    • Rashmi says:

      the first. I am not from India, therefore education issues do not concern me. The second. I am a fan of ONLY Indian cinema and Bollywood. third. I know what sexual harassment is and how terrible it is. and I sincerely sympathize with all the victims. and I know perfectly well that behind such Vikas, Nana, Sajid and so on there are ALWAYS big people who ALWAYS will help them to stay clean. As an example of Vikas in the Super 30. after several accusations and facts of sexual harassment. When there are witnesses to the scandal of 2017 and now. And that means the criminal will always be clean. while his patrons have power and money. Based on this I can draw conclusions? In any case, I made them. nothing will change in backroom Bollywood

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      • Tina says:

        Quick questions…why are you a β€˜fan’ of Bollywood, when it’s so dirty, will never change, you know how terrible sexual harassment is, and you sympathize with the victims?

        And if you are not an Indian, and are ONLY into Indian movies and Bollywood, how do you know that the larger forces in Indian society won’t force them to change?

        PS. Interesting, that you claim not to be into education issues because you are not from India. I have closely interacted with people from many different countries, and never once has anyone said education among girls is not an issue they are concerned about.
        If they want more women to study STEM in America, they want more girls to finish high school in Pakistan.

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    • Rad says:

      @Tina – Not to sound pessimistic but I too feel there is not going to be any major changes. Maybe some small time people will be made scapegoat but all the biggies will get away. Because a huge amount of money is riding on all these people and BW is not going to sacrifice that in order to give closure to a few women who don’t have the means to take on these people in a big way.

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      • Tina says:

        Rad, I am not trying to diminish your feelings – in fact I do understand where you are coming from. But, nothing worth having comes easy. I live with hope, and hope that we at least have some small wins now, and move on to bigger wins later.

        In 1988, Rupan Singh Deol accused the the powerful DGP of Punjab, KPS Gill of sexual harassment. Bhanwari Devi was raped in 1992. In 1995, Gill was convicted and this along with the Bhanwari case led to the first sexual harassment at workplace laws in 1997. All this before support from social media.
        After the Nirbhaya rape case, these laws were further tightened in 2013. Our rights as women were literally won through the most horrific personal suffering. What if Bhanwari had given up? What if Rupan had lost hope? What if Nirbhaya had not fought so valiantly? We owe it to them to keep the faith and keep fighting.

        That is all.

        • LondonThumakda says:

          @Tina, I’m hopeful too. I would like to believe the careers of sajid khan, aloknath, vikas bahl (after super30), anirban blah, that YRF casting director will not recover. I would also like to believe the women speaking out will make at least some men think twice about abusing their positions of power. they will worry if the girl is recording the meeting on her phone. they will worry about their past crimes. i would also like to think the current batch of actors will bring about a change in mindset. even the out and out commercial guys like varun and tiger seem harmless (hope i’m not wrong) and dont give out that MCP vibe akshay ajay salman sanjay did. the indian audience is maturing too. race 3 flopped, sanjay dutt’s last two films sank without a trace and stree was a superhit. not to mention raazi, vdw, kahaani, queen, english vinglish, piku…

          i think it was @monalisa who shared saloni chopra’s article, i just saw her interview on zoom, women like her fill me with hope!

    • Rashmi says:

      Please Tina take care of the problem between Donetsk and Kiev. take care of the problem of dirty streets in paris. Let you care about education in Poland. Cry about the problems of the poor homeless. When you start watching any world movie, first (before you watch) find out everything about this country. In no case do not watch world cinema if you are not worried about the problems of these countries. You have to worry about everything. Or do not watch world cinema

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      • Tina says:

        ….or if your understanding of a particular issue with a much larger impact is limited, you don’t make blanket statements about it. Like claiming not to know beyond Bollywood but claiming #MeToo which covers Bollywood+Media+Corporate etc etc will fail. How about that?

        PS. Your comment just reiterated what I am pointing out.

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    • Rashmi says:

      Tina Your comment also does not contain any specifics. This is just empty air shaking. This site is about bollywood? About bollywood. write about bollywood? about bollywood. Is Bollywood being discussed here? Bollywood i’m fond of bollywood? Bollywood if you are interested in the suffering of the Indian people, what have you forgotten here? and why are you so actively asking me about the problems of the Indian people, go to the news site and be interested in it. And Bollywood, as I wrote, nothing will change. It’s your deal to accept my opinion or not, but I don’t need your advice)

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