On Saturday, actress Sruthi Hariharan accused popular south Indian actor Arjun Sarja of sexually assaulting her during the shoot of the bilingual film Vismaya.
In a long Facebook post, Sruthi detailed the harassment she faced by the actor. She said that she was excited about working with Arjun Sarja as she grew up watching his films. Hariharan then accused the actor of running his hands up and down her back and pulling her towards him without her consent during the rehearsal for a romantic scene.
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The actress wrote, “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 the rehearsal, we delivered our lines and Mr Arjun hugs me. With no forewarning or permission, he runs his hands intimately up and down my back. 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.”
“…During the course of production, every smutty innuendo he made, created an unpalatable work environment for me. His salacious invitations to meet him after work appalled me,” she added.
Hariharan also mentioned that the she did not face such instances of harassment with other actors she has worked with. “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.”
Reacting to Hariharan’s post, the film’s director and producer Arun Vaidyanathan put out a statement explaining what happened. In it, he said that the scene was initially scripted with much more intimacy and it was toned down after actor Arjun’s request. He wrote, “He [Arjun] said ‘I have teen daughters now and can’t perform such scenes anymore’. I also understood the same and rewrote it entirely different. The above said statements regarding the shoot and the rewrite was a honest portrayal of what really happened.”
Arjun sir and Sruthi Hariharan, both are my good friends and I know their families too very well. Regarding Arjun…
According to a report in News 18, the actor has refuted the accusations. “The allegations being levelled against me are entirely baseless. I am shocked to hear it,” Arjun said.