After Sona Mohapatra, Singer Shweta Pandit Accuses Anu Malik
Trigger Warning: The following article contains details about sexual assault and violence. The details may be traumatic for survivors. Reader discretion is advised.
Singer Sona Mohapatra has accused Kailash Kher as well as music director Anu Malik of behaving inappropriately with her. In the first of a series of tweets, she describes an incident where Kher, the ‘Allah ke Bande’ singer put his hand on her thigh saying, “lines like, your (sic) so beautiful, feel so good that a ‘musician got you’ [her partner composer Ram Sampath] not an actor.”
When asked to respond to the allegations, Malik told PTI, “No comments. This is ridiculous. I don’t want to talk about it. Today anyone says anything.”
Malik’s lawyer also denied the allegations in a statement to IANS. "The allegations made against my client are emphatically denied as completely false and baseless. My client respects the #MeToo movement but to use this movement to start a character assassination mission is obnoxious," Malik's lawyer Zulfiquar Memon told IANS.
Writing to Mohapatra, a former journalist took to Twitter and narrated her own chronicle of harassment by Kher.
An account going by the name of Sara Sayyed also detailed a harrowing incident where she and her unnamed friend were invited to Kailash Kher’s studio. Have a look below.
Here’s an account of Sona Mohapatra’s ordeal.
The alleged harassment didn’t stop there. According to Mohapatra, when the two were both in Dhaka for a performance, Kher reportedly kept trying to get in touch with her.
Mohapatra claimed that she and Kher had previously worked together on several occasions, and he had even collaborated with her partner Ram Sampath on a personal project.
Sona Mohapatra in an Instagram post also named Anu Malik as a serial harasser without sharing any particular incident.
Anu Malik denied all allegations to News18, saying: “She’s meaning some case that had happened long time back. It has nothing to do with me. I have never worked with her also. So, I don't want to comment anything on it. She’s just dragging my name into this. I have not even met her.”
Sona then took to Twitter again to talk about how Malik allegedly called her at odd hours and how he allegedly harassed singer Suman Sridhar to the extent that she left the country: “”Really Anu’ji? Never met me? Called me at strange hours? What about Suman Shridhar? Didn’t harass her endlessly? She had to leave the country.”
Singer Shweta Pandit has shared a Twitter post accusing composer Anu Malik of misbehaving with her when she was only 15 years old. Shweta is the second person after singer Sona Mahapatra to accuse Anu of sexual misconduct. Shweta alleges that Anu asked her for a kiss in exchange of signing her up for a song. She notes that he did this despite knowing Shweta’s father and family well. She says that the incident lead her to depression and she almost quit the industry.
This is not the first time Kher is being accused of misconduct since the #MeToo movement gained momentum in India. A journalist from Muscat was the first to make claims of being on the receiving end of similar behaviour.
Photographer Natasha Hemrajani also tweeted about her encounter with similar behaviour from the singer in 2006 when she was a photographer at Hindustan Times. “During the interview, this creep sat between us as close to us as he could. He also kept putting his hands on our thighs (on the skin above our skirts),” she alleges.
Mohapatra posted a tweet expressing her solidarity with the women who have accused Kher.
She also addressed the ongoing debate on what exactly counts as harassment or sexual assault, which the #MeToo movement seems to have sparked. In response to a Twitter user who said she didn’t believe “flirtatious chats” counted as harassment, Mohapatra said, “These ‘creepy’ chats tell an important story. Don’t trivialise them.”
Kher has denied all allegations. In a recent statement to IANS, he said, "For all those who know me and have come across me, will know how much I respect humanity, especially women, even more for the ones who work in media since their work is difficult. I was travelling and when I heard about this news, I got extremely disappointed to know what my state of happiness has been taken for. I am neither aware of any such act that has been mentioned nor remember it."