Section 375 has been getting rave reviews for being an engaging courtroom drama, but it has also received flak for supposedly pushing the MeToo narrative back by a few steps. In a recent interview with The Quint, Manish Gupta, the writer of the recently released Section 375, spoke about how the genesis of the film actually came from the charges against actor Shiney Ahuja.
Shiney was accused of rape by his maid, and the matter was taken to court. The sessions court sentenced him to seven years of imprisonment, but he later got bail when the case was presented in the High Court.
Manish talks about how the case inspired him and said,
The story is inspired by the Shiney Ahuja case. It is absolutely inspired by the Shiney Ahuja case because I knew Shiney personally. This was in 2009. In 2009, I was supposed to do a film with Shiney. It was supposed to be a film on the gangster Charles Sobhraj. So I used to visit Shiney at his residence in Oshiwara and his wife Anupam.Manish Gupta, writer
He added, “She was his manager, so I used to interact with her. And now there was this maid, a very young maid in the house. She used to serve me water etc. One evening, I just heard that Shiney has been arrested for raping that girl. I was shocked. I rushed to the police station - the Oshiwara police station.”
Manish also went onto narrate his exchange with the DCP and how the DCP had no choice, but to keep him in custody.
Manish said, “I met the DCP and he very candidly told me that we’ve established intercourse, but we are not sure if it is consensual or if it’s rape. So I told him that then let him go, he said, ‘No he is in custody.’ I said, but if you’re saying that you are unable to establish whether it’s consensual or forced so then how can you keep him in custody. He said, I’m bound by the law, that’s the law. I have to obey the law so I’m not sure whether the sex is consensual or forced, but I have to keep him under custody.”
“Now I went and spoke to Anupam (Shiney’s wife), I went to her house again and met her. She was devastated but she told me... she explained to me how the DNA report can be error prone.”Manish Gupta, writer
“His career was ruined, he spent four to five months in jail and after he came out he was still tainted. Imagine if you are accused of a crime like rape, nobody will want to associate with you. Imagine the embarrassment within the family. His whole life was ruined, his career was ruined,” he said.
Post his interaction with the DCP, Manish went and spoke to Shiney’s wife Anupam again and narrated their interaction.
He said, “Now I went and spoke to Anupam (Shiney’s wife), I went to her house again and met her. She was devastated but she told me... she explained to me how the DNA report can be error prone. It’s not fool proof and she explained that to me. There are a number of laboratories that the sample goes through and when they match the DNA, it’s not a fool proof mechanism. And the investigation done by the police is very shoddy. They just rush it up because they need to say something. So she was telling me that. And she’s also saying that the DNA report can be manipulated.”
Manish also read the chargesheet of the case and said,
I also read the chargesheet, and I read the survivor’s statement and I had met that girl several times. She had described in minute detail what had happened with her and that sent a chill up my spine. It was scary the way she described her ordeal. Her statement also seemed true to me. I thought that maybe this has really happened.Manish Gupta, writer
Manish says that the way Shiney’s case shaped up is what inspired him to make the film. He wanted to look at both sides of the story.
“Now I didn’t know what to believe. On one side was Anupam who is a woman and her husband has been accused of rape. Her life is devastated even if it was consensual sex. On the other hand, there is this girl who has been raped, exploited so it was rather disturbing for me. And that’s how the germ of the movie came. But yes there are other similar cases to that of Shiney’s that were source material for me,” Manish concluded.