After taking Bollywood by storm, the #MeToo movement has also now spread to the South industry. Starting off with Chinmayi Sripaada's claims against lyricist Vairamuthu, more names are coming out in the open. But perhaps the biggest revelation of the lot came from Sruthi Hariharan on Saturday. The actress on social media named one of Kannada film industry's biggest names, Arjun Sarja of sexual harassment.
Detailing an instance while shooting for their bilingual film 'Nibunan' or 'Vismaya,' Sruthi claimed Arjun pulled her close to him for a tight hug and moved his hands on her back without any 'forewarning' or 'permission' while they were rehearsing a scene. She claimed that the actor asked the director if the scene would be shot that way and she added that wasn't how the scene was written in the script. The actor also said his 'smutty innuendos' created 'unpalatable work environment' for her, and that his 'salacious invitations to meet' after work 'appalled' her.
Sruthi's comments got support from Shraddha Srinath, known for films like 'Richie' and the upcoming Bollywood film 'Milan Talkies'. In a reply to Sruthi's post, Shraddha wrote how the former had told her about the incident when they were a part of a chat show, where she spoke about it without taking names, though she told the latter off the record. Shraddha also lashed out at the '70 mm men', referring to the superstars, who fight off 'dozen bad men' to 'protect their mothers and sisters' and 'make trucks fly', but didn't stand up for women's battle against sexual harassment. Sharing her #MeToo story, Shraddha said a male co-passenger in a bus kept his 'cold hand' on her crotch, and she added sarcastically if she should've taken a selfie with him to prove her claims.
Prakash Raj was the other actor who supported Sruthi's claims, with hashtags 'I am with Sruthi Hariharan' and 'support Sruthi Hariharan' by tweeting in Kannada. He said there was 'nothing wrong' if the 'pride of Kannada cinema' and 'seasoned actor' sought an apology for his behaviour as that will show he's 'magnanimous.' The veteran actor urged people to understand the helplessness, the humiliation and the pain Sruthi went through in the past few days and hoped the #MeToo movement turns out the same way for women who have faced harassment for centuries.
Arjun Sarja had earlier denied the allegations in an interview to a channel saying that none of the '60-70 actresses' he worked with made such complaints, adding that they 'respected' him and have been in touch since then. His father-in-law Rajesh, also a veteran actor of the industry, backed him too saying Arjun had a 'beautiful wife and children' and this was an 'attempt to tarnish his image.' Rajesh added his son-in-law is 56, and this is not a age for him to misbehave with women of his daughter's age.
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