'Taarak Mehta' actor accuses producer of sexual harassment; showmakers call allegations 'baseless'

Producer Asit Kumarr Modi says he will take legal action against the actor for trying to defame him and the show.

May 12, 2023 10:52 am | Updated 12:22 pm IST - Mumbai

Twitter image of Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah.

Twitter image of Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah.

Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah actor on Thursday, May 11, 2023 accused producer Asit Kumarr Modi and two others of sexual harassment, a charge they denied, claiming she was let go from the show due to misbehaviour.

Modi also said that he will take legal action against the actor for trying to defame him and the show.

The actor, who plays a prominet role on the long-running Sab TV show, said she sent a formal letter to the concerned authorities, including the National Commission for Women (NCW) and Mumbai Police on April 8, accusing Modi, project head Sohail Ramani and executive producer Jatin Bajaj of sexual harassment and outraging the modesty of a woman.

According to a senior police officer at Powai police station, they received the victim’s application on May 8.

The actor claimed producer Modi "sexually harassed" her on multiple occasions over the last few years.

"He would pass uncharitable comments but I ignored them. In March 2019, in Singapore, he said many things like, ‘Come to my room, let’s have whisky’", she alleged.

"I kept quiet but shared these things with two of my colleagues. They would often shield me. They are still working on the show, so they can’t do much," the actor told PTI.

She also claimed she told Ramani about her ordeal.

"I told him, 'I don’t want to work on the show.' He said, ‘We will stop your payment for four months'. Mentally, they put pressure on me,” the actor added.

Charges denied

However, he show producer Modi denied the actor's allegations and said he will take legal action against her for trying to defame him and the show.

"Since we terminated her services, she is making these baseless allegations," the producer told PTI.

He also claimed the actor was removed from the show on "account of misbehaviour".

"We were shooting on March 7 on Holi. Something happened and she misbehaved. We incurred a financial loss. The director and the production team said they will not work with her as she misbehaved and abused them.

"They decided to remove her from the show. I was in the US when this incident happened. Once we removed her from the show, she started levelling allegations against us. We are in talks with our lawyers. They will decide the future course of action," Modi said.

However, the actor alleged that both Ramani and Bajaj misbehaved with her on the show's sets on March 7.

In a media statement, Ramani and Bajaj denied the allegations, claiming the actor who made the complaint actually misbehaved regularly with the entire team of the show.

"We had to terminate her contract because of her bad behaviour and indiscipline during the shoot. During this incident, Asit ji was in the US. She is now trying to defame us and the show by making baseless allegations.

"We have already filed our complaint against these baseless allegations with the concerned authorities,” Ramani and Bajaj said the joint statement.

Asked why she didn't come forward with her allegations earlier, the actor said she couldn’t muster the courage to speak about it then.

"Being a woman, you think they are bigshots. How can you go up against them as your bread and butter comes from this (show)? "I thought the easy way to deal with this was to quit the show, so that time, I was threatened that they would cut four months of payment. That time, I was not in a position to quit and not even now,” she alleged.

The show's directors ¬ Harshad Joshi, Rushi Dave and Armaan Dhanesha ¬ also alleged the actress lacked discipline and was not focused on her work.

"We regularly had to complain to the production head about her behaviour. On her last day she was abusive in front of the whole unit and left the set without finishing her shoot,” they said.

Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, which started airing in 2008, is one of the longest-running sitcoms in Indian television history. It also features popular actors Dilip Joshi, Munmun Dutta and Mandar Chandwadkar.

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