Another woman accuses choreographer Ganesh Acharya of sexual harassment
A second woman has leveled allegations of sexual harassment against choreographer Ganesh Acharya. The complainant approached the National Commission for Women (NCW) on Tuesday alleging that Acharya sexually harassed her back in 1990 on the pretext of teaching her a dance form. The allegations come a week after a woman assistant choreographer accused Acharya of making her watch "adult videos" and denying her work.
According to Mid-Day, in her complaint to NCW, the complainant said that she used to visit Sahiba Hall in Andheri West in 1990 where Acharya would assist Kamal masterji with dance classes. She said she was 18 years old then and was a non-member dancer. Acharya then allegedly invited her to a "mandatory" Jive class in Santacruz East on a Sunday at 11 am.
At first, the woman said, she did not suspect a thing. However, when she arrived at the designated spot, she said that there were no other students. Acharya then allegedly kissed her neck and cheeks.
The woman said, "When I resisted, he threw me on the bed and said he wanted to make love to me and marry me. I kept saying no but he kept moving his hands over my body." She added, "I was too terrified and told him I'm on my period. He finally got off from me and said, 'Kya yaar, mood kharab kar diya.'"
The woman said she never returned to class thereafter. Acharya allegedly even offered to waive off her fees. The woman claimed there are several other victims in her knowledge. She said, "When I read about the FIR, I knew I had to speak up too."
Last week, an assistant choreographer, Divya Kotian (33), wrote to the NCW claiming that Acharya made her watch adult videos in his office. Kotian—a member of the Indian Film and Television Choreographers Association (IFTCA)—also filed a complaint against Acharya at the Amboli police station accusing him of depriving her of work and demanding commission for getting her projects. Acharya is the IFTCA General Secretary.
Kotian alleged that Acharya got her expelled from the IFTCA since she refused to give him "undue commission from the payment of my junior dancers." She also claimed that two of Acharya's team members—Jayashree Kelkar and Preeti Lad—assaulted her.
Acharya has reportedly denied both the allegations against him as false. He said Kotian's allegations were "frivolous," accusing her of making untrue claims as she is "disgruntled by the termination of her membership." He also filed a complaint of defamation against her. Choreographer Saroj Khan had also accused him of exploiting his dancers. This, Acharya termed a ploy to "malign his image."
Separately, former actor Tanushree Dutta urged Bollywood to boycott Acharya. She said, "Hiding behind the male superstars who work with this despicable man, he has been abusing his power and position to harass, bully and take advantage of vulnerable young newcomers to the industry."