With the #MeToo movement gaining prominence in the film industry, several women have come forward and narrated stories about facing sexual harassment at the hands of powerful men. Filmmaker Sajid Khan was accused of sexual harassment by actress Rachel White, journalist Karishma Upadhyay and assistant director Saloni Chopra. And now, 'Lipstick Under My Burkha' actress has narrated disgusting details about her unpleasant encounter with Sajid.
In an interview with Bombay Times, Aahana spoke at length about how Sajid once asked her bizarre questions and made her feel uncomfortable. She also opened up about her distasteful experience with Anirban Blah. Aahana even revealed how she was almost on the verge of commiting suicide five years back when she felt her career wasn't moving significantly ahead-
The Incident Dates A Year Back
Aahana told BT, "I had a meeting with Sajid Khan about a year ago, knowing the fact that he is a shady guy. I met him and he did the same thing that Saloni (Chopra) has written about him. Same drill - you go to his house, you are escorted to his room which is pretty dark. He makes you watch what he's watching. He did not make a pass at me, but he said that he wanted to get to know me."
"When I asked him why we can't sit outside, he said his mother was sitting there so why trouble her. I asked him to switch on the lights of the room, which he did. You have to be assertive here. He wanted to chat with me."
'I Told Him My Mom's A Police Officer'
"I told him my mom's a police officer which I think made him behave. But he still asked me bizarre questions like, ‘Would you have s*x with a dog if I gave you `100 crores'? He didn't touch me. I guess he was trying to give me gyaan on how I need to be a dumbf*** or laugh at his sexist jokes, if I wanted to be a mainstream heroine in his films?'
'He Implied That I Think Too Much'
"He implied that I think too much and that I am too vocal about what I think. Hence, I am not mainstream actress material. Point being, you can meet anyone, but be wise about who you work with."
When Anirban Blah Made Her Feel Uncomfortable
"Anirban Blah met me at the lobby of a five star hotel and said, ‘There's a room here. Let's negotiate there.' I walked out of that meeting because I wasn't comfortable. It didn't go down well with me. That's ‘normal' conversation he has with women. The day I chatted with him, I was shaken."
Aahana On If She Faced Advances From Anyone In Bollywood
"People tell you things like, ‘acting ke upar dhyaan mat do. Just take care of your looks.' These are big directors who have already been outed.
Sajid Khan once messaged me, ‘Oh, you can look hot in a bikini also!' I think it shocked him that I could look good in a bikini. This was after our meeting.
Talent managers like Anirban Blah speak horribly to aspiring actresses. What is wrong with these men? A handful of directors feel that inhi logon ke paas kaam hai (only they have the power to give people work). Phantom dissolved the company citing various issues, weren't they aware of what was happening in it? We should not pass the buck. We are all responsible."
'It's Not About Wanting To Punish Someone By Putting Him Behind Bars
"I wanted to talk about my experience with Anirban and Sajid earlier, but their stories came out, and though they tried, they couldn't misbehave with me. Some of us are looking for a simple, ‘Sorry'. It's not about wanting to punish someone by putting him behind bars.
It is about letting people know what he/she did. Those who are guilty should accept it.
I read Anirban's letter and I am glad that at least he accepted it. Also, not all are sleazy. I have worked with a lot of good casting directors, actors and filmmakers, and a lot depends on how you conduct yourself. Your vibe attracts your tribe."
Aahana Was So Disillusioned By Bollywood That She Was Almost On The Verge Of Committing Suicide
"I am a different person today. About five years ago, I was disillusioned by this culture of Bollywood, and there was no one to pull me out of it.
I was on the verge of committing suicide, because this culture is so normalised by certain people. I couldn't live with who I was anymore. I started questioning myself about who I had become. I was not what my parents expected me to be. It has taken me a lot to come out of it."
Aahana On What Went Wrong Back Then
"When you start working as a professional, you tend to get sucked into a group of people who do the kind of things that you are not conditioned to do. Then, you become a different human being. I will not deny the fact that I was in bad company. I had to consciously steer away from it, as I realised that it will take me down badly."
" There were some people from a known production house, who were part of my circle, but today, they are not my friends anymore. In college, guys were scared to talk to me, also because my mom is a cop. A guy touching me inappropriately was something I could never handle."
'My Principles Were Shaken'
"When I came in to the industry, my principles were shaken. One day, I sat myself down in my bedroom and deleted all the blocked numbers. Till date, these people cannot contact me. These are big names! Directors, ADs, producers."
Aahana Took Up A TV Show Just To Retain Her Sanity
"I never aspired to be TV actor, but I choose to do a TV show called Agent Raghav just to retain my sanity. I told myself that I will work and make a living without letting anyone feel that ‘she is so desperate that she will do anything for work'.
In this industry, people can smell desperation. They do talk like that and I have heard people say these things about me. I told myself I won't do it anymore. I hosted Kabaddi on TV. I did everything that I never imagined myself doing."