Actress Flora Saini, who was last seen playing the titular role in Stree, recently added to the #MeToo movement when, in a startling post on Facebook, the actress reiterated her experience. The actress reported about being physical assaulted by producer Gaurang Doshi in 2007. Saini, 34, was dating the Aankhein fame producer back then, and after a year of abuse, she reported to the police. However, the matter wasn’t paid much heed back then. "Came out with a fractured jaw n a scarred soul for life..I realised me talking about it ,that time, jus went against me ,cos he was the powerful one n nobody wanted to believe some girl who was relatively new in the industry," (sic) her Facebook post read. 11 years later, when the industry is finally having a dialogue about sexual predators, Saini has spoken about her experience as well.
BollywoodLife got in touch with Flora, who is also known by her screen name Asha, to speak about the incident. “I won’t be able to talk about the incident since it is still in the court,” the actress stated. Saini also added that it isn’t the #MeToo movement that made her speak about it. "I’ve spoken about it even in 2007 but that time, things were much different. My intention of putting that post was something else. I was trying to compare, that despite being so badly beaten with a fractured jawline, nobody stood up for me then. Today, there are women are coming out in open. People are supporting them and especially men. It is so beautiful to see that. I wanted to applaud these men and women who are coming out and supporting each other," she says.
(Also Read: Stree actress Flora Saini shares her #MeToo story; accuses producer Gaurang Doshi of physical abuse)
11 years ago, Flora, was a relatively new girl in the industry and speaking out about harassment had repercussions. The actress further added that she feels there’s a reason she had gone through that experience so that today she can "speak about it and inspire more people." She retorts, "We teach our kids if somebody touches you inappropriately speak about it. But as adults are we doing it?"
The actress recounted that nobody from the industry came out in support of her despite such severe actions by Doshi. No one except Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. "That time when I spoke, I felt I made a huge mistake. Nobody was giving me work. I’m the only breadwinner of my family and it became very difficult. No support! The only person to support me (then) was Aishwarya Rai and I thank her from the bottom of my heart. She had signed a film with Gaurang and she walked out of it. In an interview she said, 'I refuse to work with a woman beater.' When the world was against me, there was one woman, who supported me. Who leaves work? When she did that for me, there was some hope restored in me. It’s too little a thing for her probably, she won’t even remember. I love her so much for that," says Flora, full of gratitude.
Flora also revealed that she had to go through victim shaming as well. “If you are in love, to walk out is really difficult. He made me feel so small. He threatened to get my parents killed. For me it was difficult. I was trying to make it work. You can’t change a man’s habit. I was not a strong girl then. But today I am,” she asserts.
Despite Bollywood waking up to the #MeToo movement, Flora feels not everyone will be out about it. “Every girl I know, most of them have been through same thing. Not a lot of girls can speak about it. It takes lots of guts,” she admits.
Saini adds that today a “remarkable” change has occurred. These days sets have pamphlets saying, 'It’s a safe area for women.' The actress feels her last outing as Stree in the horror-comedy was a "blessing." As a last laugh of sorts, she concludes saying, "He told me you won’t get work. And I got to do a titular role. Meanwhile, we know what he is doing."
Stay tuned to BollywoodLife for the latest scoops and updates from Bollywood, Hollywood, South, TV and Web-Series.
Click to join us on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram. Also follow us on Facebook Messenger for latest updates.