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.”
Writing to Mohapatra, a former journalist took to Twitter and narrated her own chronicle of harassment by Kher.
Hi Sona! I have had a similar experience with #Kailashkher. I was a journalist with TOI and had a shoot with him. He later called me in the evening and said he is sending a car for me and bring me to his hotel. I declined politely. Recently I had another shoot with him. +— rati chaudhary (@ratichaudhary) October 12, 2018
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.
(1) I met Kailash for coffee in Prithvi Café to discuss a forthcoming concert where both our bands were playing & after the usual, a hand on my thigh with lines likes, your so beautiful, feel so good that a ‘musician got you’ (Ram) not an actor. I left not soon after. (1) https://t.co/Cfz8Hf4sdP— SONA (@sonamohapatra) October 9, 2018
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.
"When I don’t pick up, [he] calls the organisers (sic) phone to get through to me & asks me to ‘skip’ the soundcheck & join him in his room instead to ‘catch up’. " - Sona Mohapatra, Singer
(2) That did not deter Kailash Kher though. On landing in Dhaka & on my way to the venue with the organisers, keeps calling me & when I don’t pick up, calls the organisers phone to get through to me & asks me to ‘skip’ the soundcheck & join him in his room instead to ‘catch up’ https://t.co/beBehXBLup— SONA (@sonamohapatra) October 9, 2018
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.”
When contacted, Malik said, “I don’t know her.I have never worked with her also.She’s just dragging my name into this.I have not even met her.”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. https://t.co/ch7XzjlXM9— SONA (@sonamohapatra) October 10, 2018
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.
Had to go back to my worst memory as a teenage girl today to write this and speak up - its now or never. This is my #MeToo and have to warn young girls about #AnuMalik & let you know your #TimesUp @IndiaMeToo— Shweta Pandit (@ShwetaPandit7) October 17, 2018
Thank you @sonamohapatra for speaking up about him & supporting this pic.twitter.com/e261pGQyEq
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.
(2) #MeToo— Natasha Hemrajani (@radiantbear) October 6, 2018
I was sent with my colleague, a woman journalist, to take pictures of Kailesh Kher at his home for an interview. 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)
Mohapatra posted a tweet expressing her solidarity with the women who have accused Kher.
The shamelessness of this man. To call himself ‘simple’, ‘devoted to music’ & even claiming amnesia. If this chap could dare try this stunt with me, it’s a disease that he has & I can vouch for not only these two women’s stories but hundreds more he would’ve have preyed on. ? https://t.co/UaBL2rfz2h— SONA (@sonamohapatra) October 9, 2018
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."
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