The #MeToo movement is raging across India and perpetrators of sexual assault are being unmasked and brought to the fore. Prominent Bollywood actors, directors and producers including Piyush Mishra, Vikas Bahl, Sajid Khan and Rajat Kapoor have been accused of sexual misconduct.
In the wake of the movement, Chitrangda Singh recalls her nightmarish experience on the sets of Kushan Nandy’s Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, which had Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the lead role.
While working on Babumoshai Bandookbaaz (2016), Nawaz (Nawazuddin Siddiqui, co-star) and I were supposed to shoot for an intimate scene that was supposed to be “passionate” but described vaguely in the script. When Kushan (Nandy, director) had handed the script over to me almost a year before we started shooting, I had enquired about the scene and how he was planning to shoot it.
He responded by saying, “Writers ka kaam hai, who likh dete hain, passion and all. We will see how we shoot it.” When we started filming said scene, he kept on insisting that it needed more passion and subsequently, more takes. After a point, Nawaz told him that it was enough, but he wasn’t convinced and got angry.
When I tried to reason with him, saying that I could only do so much in a sari, he said, “Dono taraf pair karke ragdo.” He insisted that I get on top of Nawaz which I couldn’t do, but he snapped at me, saying, “Upar karo and go astride.” Eventually, he got on top of Nawaz to explain what he wanted me to do.
I was teary-eyed by then, but he insisted that I do as he said since he was the director. Nawaz did intervene at this point and told Kushan that he was making my job difficult by using crude language.
Nobody uttered a word and I left for my van. Kushan followed me in. When I refused to do the scene his way, he flung the script at me, which almost hit me, before storming out.
During the film’s promotions, both Kushan and Nawaz made light of the incident. At some point, Nawaz said that I had refused to kiss him because he has a dark complexion. Even today I get messages from his fans, questioning me about it.