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Actress Sruthi Hariharan Accuses Arjun Sarja Of ‘Lewd’ Behaviour

Sarja said he is pained by the allegation and would file a case.

Bengaluru: Actress Sruthi Hariharan Saturday accused prominent south Indian actor Arjun Sarja of “lewd and complete unprofessional behavior” with her during the shooting for a bilingual film in 2016.

The actress, who has essayed roles in several Kannada films, in a post on her Facebook page praising “#metoo” movement has shared about the incident that left her “startled” and took a while for her to “recover”.

Sarja, a multi-lingual actor, has said he is pained by the allegation and would file a case.

Narrating the incident that she alleged happened in 2016, Sruthi said, she was shooting for a bilingual film whichstarred Arjun Sarja, a man whose movies she grew up watching, and was excited about the opportunity.

“The first few days seemed normal, I played his wife in the film and that day we were to do a romantic scene where we had to hug each other after a brief dialogue.

During therehearsal, we delivered our lines and Mr Arjun hugs me. With no forewarning or permission, he runs his hands intimately upand down my back,” her post said.

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“He pulls me closer with my body taut against his and asks the director if we could use this idea of foreplay in the scene. I was aghast,” she said in the post.

Sruthi said she was all for depicting realism in cinema, but this felt “absolutely wrong.”

“His intent seemed anything but professional. I hated that he did it and angry that I didn’t know what to say then,”she said, adding that every actor she has worked with before and after Arjun Sarja, have never resorted to this.

Further noting that the director sensed her “discomfort”, Sruthi said she made sure that she let the direction department know that she was not interested to be a part of rehearsals and would come directly for takes.

She also shared the incident with her make up team right after, Sruthi said in her post.

“The incident happened in front of at least 50 peopleon a shooting set- it happened at my workplace.

I wanted nothing but to stay away from him rather than be tolerant and put up with his lewd and complete unprofessional behavior,”she said.

She said she continued shooting as a “professional,” During the course of production, every “smutty innuendo” he made, created an “unpalatable” work environment for me, the post said.

“His salacious invitations to meet him after work appalled me. Looking back I remember attempting to normalise his behaviour and ignore his comments- lest there be issues inthe production of the film in entirety.

I maintained a cordial distance. All the while knowing he was wrong and wondering why he never stopped,” Sruthi said.

Explaining about her intention to come out now, she said “hence forth I think Mr Arjun Sarja needs to make sure he doesn’t cross the thin line between two actors and use his position of power to cause another person discomfort or hurt.

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“I choose to do this publicly- cos this movement is more than you and me and our individual experiences. It is a collective voice to question an existing system of power play and to call a spade for what it is,” the actress added.

In his reaction to the charge to a local Kannada news channel that has been posted on Arjun Sarja’s Facebook post by his team, he said, “..I don’t have the cheap mentality, keeping the profession as the medium. I’m deeply pained.

I don’t know how to react to this, but hundred per cent I’m going to file a case against this.”

The actor said he has great respect for womanhood from childhood, adding he has never involved in any incident that is disrespectful of women or embarrass them.

He said he respects “#metoo” and values it, but cautioned about it being misused, leading to the movement losingits value.

He said in 150 movies that he has acted in, he hasshared screen space with 60-70 actresses and has good relationshipwith all of them.

“If somebody is making suchallegation against me, I feel pity for her. What to tell this girl.She had expressed intentions that she wants to act morefilms with me. I’ m surprised,” the actor said.

He also questioned as to why Sruthi did not react, if she felt that he misbehaved with her.

Also Read: #MeToo: Riyas Komu Apologises, Steps Down From All Kochi Biennale Management Positions

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