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While we were starting to assume that Tinsel Town was free of the on-going #MeToo movement and was safe, actress Sonal Vengurlekar has changed out through process.
The actress who has been a part of shows like Dil Dosti Dance, The Buddy Project, Shastri Sisters and Saam Daam Dand Bhed among others, chose to reveal an account of when she was sexually harassed.
Speaking to Bombay Times, Sonal revealed that back in 2012, when she was struggling in the industry, photographer Raja Bajaj had made sexual advances towards her.
She recollected how she came across a casting opportunity and called up the number (Raja Bajaj's) and that she was called to a location in Borivali for an audition. However, Sheena revealed that because she was untrained, she could not deliver her dialogues and that was when Raja asked her to accompany him on some shoots to get a better understanding of the profession'.
Sonal revealed that on the 5th of March 2012, Raja and another model picked her up and headed to Khopoli for the shoot, where there was another model with her mother present. And then Raja asked Sonal to try on some outfits and while following her to the changing room, asked her to apply a cream on her breasts to give them a proper shape. According to Sona, even before she could react, Raja had stepped forward and forcefully started applying the cream on her breasts. She then said that she ran away from there and informed the photographer that she would prefer to watch the shoot and learn the ropes.
She also alleged that after some time, Raja returned to her room and told her that he will teach her tantrik vidya' owing to which Sonal could achieve super-stardom overnight, for which she had to sit naked in front of him. However, when Sonal refused, Raja tried to forcefully remove her clothes.
Sonal revealed that she managed to run away and take refuge with another model and her mother. Sonal stated that after sometime, the manager had informed them that Raja had left from the resort with his belongings. Then when the actress discussed the incident with her family friend, he suggested that Sonal confront Raja. However, the call was answered by Raja's wife who heard Sonal and asked her to come over to discuss it.
Sonal revealed that when she went to Raja's house with her friend, both Raja and his wife fell' at her feet and apologised and also requested her to not disclose about the incident, with also a promise of getting Sonal a lead role. However, according to the actress she'd made up her mind and filed a police complaint at Kasturba Marg police station (Borivali).
However, she was recently contacted again by the police, the actress revealed. And even though she was in double minds about withdrawing the case as all these years, no action was taken, everything else triumphed and Sonal recorded her statement around 15 days ago. But Raja's lawyer apparently came up to the actress and her mother and tried to dissuade them from pursuing the case. But she decided to go ahead with it as she is of the opinion that every girl should react immediately, if faced with such circumstances.
Sonal will be giving her final statement on the 1st of December.
Bombay Times also spoke to photographer Raja who denied the allegations. According to Raja, the model he had brought with him, did not fit the requirements of the shoot and was released, post which he'd asked Sonal also to leave with her. But Sonal insisted on staying back and assist him.
Denying that he had asked Sonal to try on clothes, Raja stated that Sonal with put up with others in one room while he stayed in another and that there was no question of him going into Sonal's room. He also questioned as to if he had indeed gone into Sonal's room, then how come the other crew present, did not notice him.
In contrary to Sonal's version of what happened at Raja's house, the photographer claimed that Sonal did come to his house and initially demanded Rs.3 lakhs and then came down' to Rs.1.5 lakhs. Then when Raja and his wife told Sonal that they were approaching cops, she and her friend also reached the police station to file an FIR. However, according to Raja, the police did not file their FIR as Sonal had mentioned the wrong date of the shoot.
Well, this issue has already gotten murky. We hope for justice to prevail.