Actor Farhan Akhtar says he feels a sense of guilt for not being aware of the indecent behaviour of his cousin Sajid Khan. The Housefull film-maker was accused of sexual harassment by two women – actor Saloni Chopra and a journalist, following which he stepped down as the director of the franchise. When the allegations initially surfaced, Farhan, who has been a vocal supporter of the Me Too movement, was one of the first celebrities to term them as “shocking,” reported Hindustan Times.
Talking to journalist Barkha Dutt at the We The Women event, the Rock On!! star said, “Every time something like this has happened in the public domain, I’ve been very vocal with my opinion. When it came to someone within my family, I felt silence on that front would be very, very hypocritical.” He continued, “So pretty much on the first day when three women came out and spoke, I felt it was important for me to speak out.”
Considering Sajid to be as dear as a brother to him, Farhan shared he is going to help Sajid figure out a way to make the affected women feel better. When Barkha said an apology alone would not suffice as sexual violation is a crime, Farhan agreed. “Absolutely. Whether stuff like this needs to go into the ambit of court is for them to decide. These are the things Sajid has to face. To start with apologising is a big step. To say ‘I am sorry about what I did’ is a big step. It can make a person feel a lot better.”
Farhan had mixed emotions when he first heard about the accusations against his cousin. “It was a surprise, disappointment and strangely, because when it’s a member of your family, it was a certain level of guilt. It’s happened to all of us in the past when we hear something like this and say ‘But how come someone so close to him didn’t know.’ The truth is I didn’t. If I did know I would’ve spoken about it way before the story broke. There was this certain guilt about how this could be going on and I had no idea. So there were conflicted emotions.”
While the Dil Dhadakne Do actor he wished he had known about Sajid’s behaviour earlier, he confessed three more women spoke to him privately, accusing the latter of the same. “There were two-three women who got in touch with me privately to say ‘Listen you should know whatever is being said is true and he has behaved in a similar way with us as well.’ These are the people I’ve known for more than 20 years and meet them very often but nobody ever mentioned this to me,” said Farhan. When confronted, the women said they were not comfortable about telling on Sajid and so they kept mum about it.
Meanwhile, the actor-director feels it is ultimately a woman’s decision when she wants to come out and tell her story and she should be given the environment and space to do so. “If someone has behaved badly with a woman and she hasn’t spoken about it for 10, 20 or 30 years, it’s her prerogative when she wants to speak. Even if someone tells me privately, like these three women, I cannot take their names. Can I go to the public with that? I can’t because she will be answerable then for the rest of her life. It’s a woman’s agency,” he added.