Jeetendra Faces Sexual Assault Accusations Nearly Half a Century After Alleged Crime

In the past fifty years, Bollywood has not been deprived of its sexual scandals, allegations and cases. A few of the most infamous cases included but weren’t limited to Shiney Ahuja, Madhoor Bhandarkar and Karim Morani. And now we must add to the list of alleged perpetrators, Bollywood veteran Jeetendra.

In an environment where rapists and sexual assaulters can easily fight back their convictions, be granted bail after a couple years of incarcerations and return to daily life, it is a monumental task to foster an environment that allows for a constructive and beneficial victim support system.

Take, for example, the recent allegations against Jeetendra, who was recently accused of assaulting his cousin ten years younger. According to Times of India,  the assaulted came forward with an online confession, followed by a written complaint, which led to the arrest of the actor a month after the allegation. She claims that Jeetendra was intoxicated, and had arranged for her to meet him in a hotel in Shimla in 1971, which is where the assault occurred.

Unlike previous rape allegations against Bollywood actors, this particular case did not cause media frenzy, sensationalist headlines or public outrage. Reactions were limited to social media banter, if any, and case updates are being released to the public without much noise. The little reaction that the case has received has been limited to Twitter, where fans of the accused have attempted to dissect the victim’s decision to wait almost 50 years before revealing the truth.

It’s always a double edged sword being a victim, especially in a society that thrives on bashing the fallen if it means they can save their idols from a tarnished image. If you choose to share your trauma with the world, you are either applauded, or what’s more prevalent in India, have your life and choices torn to smithereens every step of the way. 50 years, 50 days, 50 hours, the timeline should be irrelevant.

The phrase “innocent until proven guilty” has been twisted and turned into a shameless form of victim blaming and male privilege in our culture, especially when the guilty are people we have looked up to for over half a century.

And now, the judge in the High Court of Himachal Pradesh has stayed the probe into the allegations and FIR against Jeetendra until May 23rd, which undoubtedly will cause more fans to strengthen their beliefs that the actor could have committed this alleged assault against his cousin.

In 2015, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, almost 95% of the rapes were carried out by an offender who knew the victim beforehand. Studies also show that a decrease in rape crimes in Indian states does not necessarily signify a decrease in the crime itself, rather, a decline in the reporting of the crime due to the victim’s hesitance to come forward. India has a horrific and grotesque sexual assault issue, one that gains traction with the latest headlines and loses steam just as quickly.

With tweets like the one listed above, how can one feel encouraged and optimistic about revealing their trauma, when it has been proven time and time again who the public tends to favor.

[Read Related: #MeToo: Sexual Assault is Real and No One Deserves It]

The harsh reality remains, that a man wouldn’t have to hide his accusations for 47 years, because it is likely that justice to him would have been served immediately, with or without legal involvement.

By Isha Das

Isha is an Economics major studying at the Ohio State University. She is passionate about ending the stigma that surround … Read more ›

‘The Romantics’: Revisiting the Legacy and Grandeur of Yash Chopra With Filmmaker Smriti Mundhra

The Romantics

If you are a South Asian, born in the ’80s or the early ’90s, chances are your ideas of love and romance are heavily influenced by Hindi films — that first gaze, the secret love notes, that accidental meeting somewhere in Europe, over-the-top gestures and dancing around trees. While reality may have been far from what was promised on reel, you still can’t stop pining over a hopeless romantic, with chocolate boy looks, chasing you across the earth and many universes; in the life here and the ones after. Somewhere deep down, you still dream of that possibility despite your husband sitting and sipping his morning coffee right next to you. And much of the credit for weaving this dreamland, that we can’t resist happily sliding into, goes to the legendary Yash Chopra. Award-winning filmmaker Smriti Mundhra’s docu-series, “The Romantics,” that released on Netflix on February 14, chronicles Chopra’s prolific career; offering an illuminating look into the highs and lows of his journey, his unblemished vision for Hindi cinema and sheer love for filmmaking. 

I wanted to look at Indian cinema through the lens of it being a major contributor to the global cinema canon and Yash Chopra seemed like the perfect lens to explore that because of the longevity of his career and the fact that he had worked across so many different genres. His films, for so many of us, defined what Hindi cinema is.

— Smriti Mundhra

As “The Romantics” unveils, in a mere episode — a challenging feat in itself — Chopra did experiment with multiple genres as a budding filmmaker, initially under the shadows of his elder brother B.R. Chopra. From the religiously sensitive “Dharamputra” and the trendsetting “Waqt” to the action-packed and iconic “Deewaar.” It wasn’t until later on in his career that he set a precedent for a Hindi film having a wholly romantic narrative; though “Waqt” did offer the perfect glimpse into what would go on to become Chopra’s cinematic imprint. And then came “Chandni” which ushered in a new era for Hindi cinema; defying the formulaic approach to box office success and making love stories the golden goose.

In the words of more than 30 famous faces, a host of archival videos and interviews, and personal anecdotes, audiences get an extensive insight into the life and career of Yash Chopra and the evolution of his vision through the business acumen and genius of his polar opposite son and a famous recluse, Aditya Chopra. “The Romantics” is not a fancy portrait of a legendary filmmaker but an exploration of what goes into making a successful film family and a path-breaking production house. As viewers, we not only get a peek into the making of a fantasy creator but also learn of the many failures, hurdles and uncertainties that the business of filmmaking comes packaged in, the impact of socio-political shifts on the kind of content being produced and demanded, and just how much control we have as an audience over the fate of the film and the filmmaker.

For both the uninitiated and fanatics, there are some interesting revelations like Shah Rukh Khan’s lifelong desire to become an action hero as opposed to a romantic one and the creative conflict between Aditya Chopra and his father Yash Chopra on the sets of “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge” — a project that, surprisingly, did not seem too promising to the latter. Mundhra penetrates deep into the family’s history and industry relationships evoking some really candid conversations; almost as if these celebs were eagerly waiting for their moment to speak. With one appraising interview after the other, it’s a panegyric that does border on being a tad tedious but there is enough depth and fodder in there to keep one hooked. Kudos to Mundhra for managing to achieve cohesion despite there being more than enough material to chew on. In the process of bringing this project to life, Mundhra also ends up achieving a number of milestones: one that the series features the last of actor Rishi Kapoor’s interviews and two, it brings Aditya Chopra, who, it appears, can talk a blue streak contrary to popular belief, to the front of the camera after almost two decades. The moment when he puts the nepotism debate to rest by referring to his brother’s catastrophic attempt at acting is quite the show-stealer.


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At some point during the four-episode series, you might question if it’s fair to credit the Yash Raj family for being the only real changemakers of the Hindi film industry and for picking up the baton to get Hindi cinema the global recognition that it has. But then there is no denying the Chopra clan’s body of work, their ability to understand what pleases the crowd and their commitment towards growth and progress amidst changing times and technology — Yash Raj Studios is in fact the only privately held and one of the biggest, state-of-the-art film studios in India. Chopra’s career and legacy are in no way under-lit that Mundhra can claim to throw new light on with “The Romantics.” But what she really has on offer here are sheer nostalgia, some fascinating discoveries and an ode to a cinephile and his art with a bit of fan service.

In an interview with Brown Girl Magazine, Mundhra discusses why it was so important for Chopra to be the subject of her docu-series, her own learnings during the series’ research and creative process and her accomplishment of getting Aditya Chopra to talk, and that too, at length.

By Nida Hasan

Editor by profession, writer by passion, and a mother 24/7, Nida is a member of Brown Girl Lifestyle's editing team … Read more ›