“On the very first night of outdoor shooting for Anaarkali in Amroha, I went through an incident that showed me two things. That the issue raised by the movie was for real and that the people making this movie knew how to walk their talk.
We were staying in a small hotel on the highway. I went to the reception looking for some snacks when I heard someone calling my name. I turned around and found a man from the technical team staring at me. He carried a weird look on his face and I could sense that he was drunk. I ignored him, hurried towards my room, and latched the door as soon as I reached there.
Next thing I heard was a knock on the door. My assistant, who I was sharing my room with, wanted to answer the door thinking that we might be needed for some work related issue and answered the door. She found three men standing at the door who asked her to go with them to meet some “Sir”. This was when I got up and banged the door in their faces. I called one of the assistant directors, a very sensible man, on his mobile phone and told what had just happened. He immediately came to us along with his team. Soon, we figured out that these three men had knocked every girl’s door by that time. They were given a stern warning and told to return to their rooms.
Next morning in the middle of the shoot, I felt someone touching my backside. It was the same man giving me a challenging smile. I could almost hear him saying – ‘Now, show me what you can do about this.’ I freaked out but decided to stay quiet till the shot got wrapped up. I didn’t want the team to lose any time and money. After the shoot, I went to Swara Bhasker and told her about the incident. She took a stand for me and so did the entire crew. We all believed that, if no action taken, the intensity of this man’s sleaze would keep increasing. Swara Bhasker called the movie producer and he fired the man in spite of having paid him an advance. This incident and the support I received from the team reinstated my belief in standing up against exploitation of all sorts.
It has not been easy being a strong, straight forward girl in Jamalpur, a small town in Bihar. I never meekly tolerated lewd comments of eve-teasers and paid them back with befitting stingy replies. My father almost pleaded with me to stay quiet since he knew he had no political connections to call upon, had something gone awry. However, I could never stop myself from standing up for myself, for my friends and at times, even for my mother.”