Mandana Karimi alleges harassment on sets

Mandana Karimi alleges harassment on sets

A night before Diwali, Mandana Karimi says she got a rude shock on the set of her forthcoming film, Koka Kola. It was her last day of the shoot which went awry towards the last hours, when the film’s producer, Mahendra Dhariwal, allegedly misbehaved with her on the set of the film in Mumbai.
Mandana told BT, “I am still in shock about what happened and how it happened. Koka Kola is a film that we have been working on for over a year now, and it’s been one of those jobs that you do despite knowing that the team is not being very professional. We all end up doing a few such jobs to just keep ourselves afloat. From the beginning, I had problems with this crew. The producer (Mahendra Dhariwal) is an old-school man who turns the set into a man-dominated, egoistic place. There are places where projects are driven by one person’s ego. That’s not new, but what happened on November 13 has shaken me up. It was the last day of my shoot and I wanted to wrap up and get going. I had another meeting lined up. On the last two days of the shoot, I had come in early and clocked in the hours, though the shoot wasn’t all about me. A little before wrap-up, the producer asked me for an hour more on the set, which I told him I can’t do as I have a meeting lined up. He said okay, and I went back on set to finish my last few takes. We were shooting for a song. But the moment I left the set and went to my vanity van to change, he forcefully came inside and started shouting, ‘You can’t leave. I asked you to do an extra hour and you have to listen because I am the producer and I have paid you.’ This set had no director or assistants. There was a choreographer, a stylist and the producer was calling the shots, literally. It’s the strangest job I have done in my nine years in India. He started creating a scene on the set along with his son and calling me names. It’s unsettling how they have behaved with me as an artiste and as a woman.”

Mandana adds, “He started saying, ‘Humne paise diye hain, lekin tumko kaam nahi karna hai, paise bhi poore chahiye, blackmail karti hai.’ After my last take, I went to my vanity van and told my spot boy to not let anyone in while I was changing my clothes. I thought the door was locked, but it wasn’t. In a few seconds, the producer came inside, since I was changing, I requested him to wait outside, but he refused and continued screaming. Luckily, the stylist (Hitendra Kapopara) ran into the vanity and pulled him out before things became uglier.”

The actress continues, “I am a single woman, I don’t have family here or a godfather, not even a manager or a PR person. I am trying to make a living on my own. I still can’t understand what really happened. A lot happens on a set, but this was absolute misbehaviour. People have called me and asked me who this shady guy is and why I am working with him. I have to support myself, there is no one else to help me with that. The last few months have been really tough. This behaviour amounts to mental harassment… being shouted at like that in front of so many people, being called names, being asked what visa am I working on, and telling me that I have no work and no one will work with me. In the last two months, the producer has messaged me several times, asking for dates. I was busy with two other projects. He and his son are not trustworthy people, and I wanted the full payment before I resumed work. I am here on an employment visa and I have paid my taxes. I have worked hard with dignity. I love India, and it’s been my home. People know me and have shown support, knowing how professional I am, but imagine being new and not having anyone to back you.”

Mandana says she was not allowed to use the production vehicle that was allocated to her. She adds, “First, the producer asked me to get out of his set. And when I got into the car, the producer’s son stopped the driver from driving me home. No one said anything about all of this. The only other person who helped me was the choreographer, who lent me his car to go home. I am not the first one to go through this, but I am someone who will not take it lying down. I will not go to that set ever again. I am done with it.”

I am okay with spending the money, but she has behaved unprofessionally with us: Mahendra Dhariwal
When Bombay Times reached out to producer Mahendra Dhariwal, he said, “We were shooting for Koka Kola with Sunny Leone and Mandana Karimi before the pandemic hit us. The shoot was halted due to the lockdown. We had signed Mandana for Rs 7 lakhs, but once the shooting began and got into continuity, she started acting up. Like when we were shooting in Delhi and she had to stay back for a day, she demanded Rs 2 lakh to be paid to her. Post-lockdown, when we started planning our shoot again, and we reached out to her for dates, she said she is busy. She demanded a sum of Rs 2 lakh a day for these new dates. She wanted the money to be paid in advance, which I did. On the last day, the shift was from 9 am to 9 pm. We had a set created and a song was being shot. At 7 pm, she said she has to leave. I requested her that we have to complete this today and I asked if she could wait for an hour more. She said okay and went back on set. At 8 pm, she got a call and she went into her vanity van. I ran after her to stop her from leaving because we still had a few shots left. I told her I would run into a loss as I will have to shoot the next day again. She wasn’t willing to stay back, and that is when I gave her an earful because she started packing up. Mandana started making videos of me screaming; I told her I am not scared. I entered the vanity van in about 10-15 seconds after she entered, and I knocked before entering. She asked me to step in. Public khadi thi bahar, and I was standing on the steps of the van. I requested for an additional 15 minutes, but I lost my cool when she started acting up. Later, she came back on the shooting floor and started making my videos. There were hundreds of people on the sets who can vouch for what I am saying. Prince, director-choreographer Ahmed Khan’s associate, who was choreographing, will tell you. In one-and-a-half years, for a contract of Rs 7 lakhs, she has taken Rs 17 lakhs, cash transactions included. I am okay with spending the money, but she has behaved unprofessionally with us.”

Source From : Times Of India

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