With the global MeToo movement revealing the underbelly of entertainment industries, accusations of sexual harassment are surfacing almost every day from around the world. Now, in the latest of a series of accusations, it is the Iranian actress Elnaaz Norouzi who has claimed that Namaste England director, Vipul Shah has sexually harassed her.
Elnaaz, who made her film debut with Pakistani film, Maan Jao Na in February, has since then risen to fame after appearing in the Saif Ali Khan starrer, Sacred Games. She was reported to be auditioning for a part of the recently-released film, Namaste England starring Arjun Kapoor. However, she backed out when she was sexually harassed.
“I came to Mumbai and faced a lot of sh*t,” Elnaaz wrote in her piece on Mid-Day. “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.V pul had offered the role to Jacqueline (Fernandes), who had let it pass.”
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The actress claimed that once she met him, things were off from the get-go.
“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.”
According to the actress, things went awry when the filmmaker’s inappropriate behaviour became a norm.
“Vipul got back saying this isn’t what he wanted.” she wrote. “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.”
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Elnaaz also claims that the situation kept getting worse, but since she wanted the film, she was trying not to ‘be rude.’
“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. We did another set of auditions. 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.”
In the detailed article, the actress has warned against such men and has asked women not to succumb to such tribulations.
“I let it pass,” she wrote. “No woman should have to succumb and submit to get work.”