“I’ve requested the producers of Housefull 4 to cancel the shoot until further investigation."
With three women accusing Bollywood filmmaker and director Sajid Khan of alleged sexual harassment, lead actor Akshay Kumar cancels Housefull 4 (2019) shoot in Mumbai.
Initially, journalist Karishma Upadhya came forward, before actresses Saloni Chopra and Rachel White also accused Sajid of alleged indecent behaviour.
In the statement shared on Friday, October 12, 2018, the actor said: “I’ve requested the producers of Housefull 4 to cancel the shoot until further investigation. This is something that requires stringent action.”
He continued: “I will not work with any proven offenders and all those who have been subjugated to harassment should be heard and given the justice they deserve.”
As a result of the allegations made against him, Sajid has stepped down as director of the film.
The director put out a statement on Twitter detailing his decision.
He commented: “In the wake of the allegations against me & the pressure being put on my family, my producer and the stars of my film Housefull 4, I must take moral responsibility of stepping down from my directorial post, till the time I can allay the allegations and prove the truth.”
Khan who has directed films such as Housefull (2010), Housefull 2 (2012) and Humshakals (2014) is accused of sexual harassment by three women.
They include assistant director and actress Saloni Chopra, along with actress Rachel White and Journalist Karishma Upadhya.
After years of keeping it to herself, in light of the #MeToo movement, actress Saloni Chopra decided to reveal her story.
Chopra shared a link to a post she had written on Medium, and tweeted alongside it.
She wrote: “I finally decided to share my story with you. Writing this was like re-living all that horrible past I’d chosen to let go of, but I knew if I don’t today, I may never. So here’s #metoo #MetooIndia.”
Saloni, who is a keen women’s rights activist regularly posts her views on social media about a variety of issues including abortion, depression and abuse.
Recently Chopra posted a series of pictures titled #ScaredNoMore on her Instagram. She shared 8 posts detailing many issues she had faced over the years, including childhood abuse, mental health issues and abusive relationships.
Actress Rachel White, supporting the statement of Saloni wrote:
“I believe you @redheadchopra I was sent by my agency then to meet Sajid Khan during Humshakals. Right after my agency told me about the meeting Sajid called me within the next 5 mins and said the meeting would be at his house opp iskon Juhu.”
Journalist, Karishma Upadhya narrated her experiences about Sajid, especially of how he uncovered himself to her. Upadhya claims he [Sajid] “forced his tongue down my mouth.”
The Journalist posted on Twitter:
“The first time I interviewed Sajid Khan in the early 2000s, he called me to the house he shared w/ his sister. Thru the interview he talked about how large his penis is & how he knew how to satisfy a woman.”
“A few years later, I had to work with Sajid when I was at MTV. Initially, I wanted to find a way to not work on that show.
“Then I realised, why should I let go of an opportunity because a man can’t keep his d**k in his pants.
“At the end of the first meeting, I forewarned him about behaving himself. I’ll never forget what he said to me, ‘You are fatter than you used to be. I won’t touch you with a barge pole.’ And then he laughed.”
The fourth instalment of the hit Housefull franchise stars Akshay Kumar, Bobby Deol, Riteish Deshmukh, Kriti Sanon, Pooja Hegde and Kriti Kharbanda.
The film is scheduled to release on October 25, 2019. Though it remains to be seen if the release date will be changed due to the cancelled shoots.
The team has already shot schedules in London, UK and Jaisalmer, India.
Akshay’s wife Twinkle Khanna also went on Twitter to express her opinion on the ongoing #MeToo movement and in context to Housefull 4 (2019).
She tweeted: “Appalled hearing multiple incidents of harassment and it is truly horrific to hear what these women have been through.”
The outspoken former actress and writer continued: “Everyone involved in Housefull needs to take a firm stance on this issue. This cannot go on.”
Actress Bipasha Basu has also expressed her views on Khan saying that he allegedly created a humiliating environment for women on the sets of Humshakals (2014).
In an interview with Indian Express, Bipasha explained:
“It was just his general attitude towards women that would disturb me. He cracked lewd jokes openly and was pretty rude to all girls. (Though) never ever did the same with me.”
As a result, Basu declined to participate in the marketing of Humshakals (2014).
Members of Sajid’s family have also shed light on the alleged allegations. “Heartbroken” by the news, Khan’s choreographer-director sister Farah Khan tweeted:
This is a heartbreaking time for my family.We have to work through some very difficult issues. If my brother has behaved in this manner he has a lot to atone for.I don’t in any way endorse this behavior and Stand in solidarity with any woman who has been hurt.
— Farah Khan (@TheFarahKhan) October 12, 2018
Director Farhan Akhtar was also shocked and disappointed by his cousin’s conduct tweeting:
I cannot adequately stress how shocked, disappointed and heartbroken I am to read the stories about Sajid’s behaviour.
I don’t know how but he will have to find a way to atone for his alleged actions.
— Farhan Akhtar (@FarOutAkhtar) October 12, 2018
Akhtar is related to Sajid from his maternal side. Farhan is the son of Honey Irani, who is the sister of Sajid and Farah’s mother Menaka Irani.
Akshay Kumar is not the only superstar in Bollywood to take action and speak out in light of recent allegations.
Aamir Khan who was due to co-produce the Gulshan Kumar biopic, Mogul backed out of the film after allegations of sexual misconduct were levelled at the director, Subhash Kapoor. Subsequently, Kapoor was dropped by T-Series led Bhushan Kumar.
As the #MeToo movement marches on in India, many more women are opening up about their experiences. The campaign is certainly not coming to a halt anytime soon.
After the allegations against Khan and Nana, it has left the Housefull 4 team in turmoil.
Under the current climate, Akshay Kumar is understandably taking a cautious approach by cancelling the shoot for Housefull 4 (2019).
He has taken a wise decision, considering the situation that Sajid Khan has landed himself into.