Ajay Devgn has finally responded to the flak he has been receiving for working with Alok Nath, in his upcoming film De De Pyaar De, despite the fact that Nath has been accused of rape and sexual harassment.
Ajay has said that the decision to replace Nath in the film was not his call alone. He also mentioned that it would cost double the original budget to re-shoot the concerned scenes, a decision that only the makers could have made.
He said in a statement,
"“Everyone is aware that film-making is a collaborative process. The decision to replace Nath could never have been mine alone. In this case, I would have to go with the joint-decision of the entire unit. Not to forget, I could not have brought the entire combination of actors back or put up sets again for a 40-day re-shoot because this would mean doubling the budget, which again wasn’t my call to make. It would have to be the call of the makers. Had circumstances played out even slightly differently, I would have pushed for a different combination of actors. Unfortunately, this was not to be.”" - Ajay Devgn, Actor
Alok Nath was accused of rape and sexual assault by writer/producer Vinta Nanda in October 2018. A police case was filed against him after which he was granted anticipatory bail. Actors Sandhya Mridul, Himani Shivpuri and Deepika Amin have also shared stories of having experienced harassment by Nath.
In his statement, Ajay reiterated that he stands by India’s #MeToo movement. He said,
"“When the #MeToo movement happened, I along with many of my film industry colleagues categorically expressed that I respect every single woman at the workplace and I would not stand for any unfairness or atrocity against them. Nothing about my stand has changed. I reiterate I am extremely sensitive to the #MeToo movement. But when circumstances are beyond me, I don’t see why an attempt is being made to `single’ me out as being insensitive. This is untrue.”" - Ajay Devgn
Both Vinta Nanda and Tanushree Dutta – who sparked Bollywood’s #MeToo movement after she accused Nana Patekar of sexual harassment – have slammed Ajay for continuing to work with Nath.
According to Tanushree Dutta, the makers could have chosen to re-shoot parts of the film that featured Nath. “Nobody even knew before the posters and trailers that Alok Nath is in the film so if Ajay Devgan and the makers wanted they could have just quietly replaced him and re-shot his portions,” she said.
Vinta Nanda, on the other hand, told mid-day that she hadn’t expected any better. “I don’t think Ajay Devgn is in a position to take a stand, so I do not expect anything from him. The money riding on the project is the only dharma for these people,” she said.
De De Pyaar De stars Ajay Devgn, Tabu, Rakul Preet Singh and Alok Nath. It has been directed by Akiv Ali and produced by Luv Ranjan, Bhushan Kumar and Krishan Kumar. The film hits theatres on 17 May.
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