Mumbai, March 23: In 2017, Hollywood spoke openly about the prevalence of a perverse culture of rape and sexual assault within the industry. Some of the famous names from the industry like producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey were found guilty of rape, sexual assault and intimidation. Hollywood's #MeToo movement had a worldwide impact as more and more women and men from various walks of life have revealed how powerful men have raped and assaulted them.
India's biggest film industry, Bollywood (as the Hindi film industry in Mumbai is known), hailed the #MeToo revolution, however, no one from the industry came out openly to tell their "horror stories". A few actresses did say that casting couch (a phrase to denote sexual favours for roles and works in a film) is very much prevalent in all the Indian film industries. But they said that nobody takes names as it would end his/her career.
Now, yesteryear child star, Daisy Irani, revealed that a man, who was her "guardian", raped her when she was six years old. Irani, a popular child artiste, has worked in films like Boot Polish, Jagte Raho and Naya Daur, among others. The 67-year-old actress told Mumbai Mirror that she was raped during an outdoor shoot by her mother-entrusted "guardian". Irani added that her mother was "hell-bent on making her a star."
She told Mumbai Mirror: "The man who did this was supposed to be my guardian. He accompanied me to a film shoot (Hum Panchhi Ek Dal Ke) in Madras. One night in the hotel room he violated me, hit me with a belt and warned me that he would kill me if I ever told anyone about what had happened." Her revelation has come almost six decades later after the shocking incident took place.
"That man is dead and gone. His name was Nazar. He was related to the famous singer Zohrabai Ambalewaali. Obviously, he had contacts in the film industry. My mother was hell-bent on making me a star," Irani added.
Irani said that she decided to speak about her childhood trauma to alert the parents of child artistes of today. She added that parents of child artistes should to be vigilant to stop such crimes. "Child actors have it tough. In a majority of cases, they have been taken advantage of. Maybe a few have had it easy, but most don't, really," she said.
Irani's sister Honey Irani too was a popular child star like her.
Recently, veteran actor Jeetendra's cousin alleged that he had sexually harassed her several years ago. The 75-year-old actor was booked by the Shimla police on charges of molestation based on his cousin's complaint. A few days ago, on March 17, the Himachal Pradesh High Court stayed the state police investigation into the case.