#MeToo: TV actress Sonal Vengurlekar accuses casting director Raja Bajaj of sexual harassment
Not just Bollywood actresses, but even television actresses have spoken about being sexually harassed by co-stars or casting directors. Sonal Vengurlekar, known for her roles in TV serials like Shastri Sisters, Yeh Vaada Raha and Saam Daam Dand Bhed, has spoken about horrific incident that she experienced. She has accused casting director Raja Bajaj of sexual harassment.
Speaking to Bombay Times, Sonal revealed that back in 2012 when she was just 19, Bajaj had forcefully applied a cream on her breast and asked her to go naked to teach tantrik vidya.
The actress said, "This was when I had started giving auditions and chanced upon an opportunity on a casting website. I called on the number mentioned on the site and was told by the person to come for an audition in Borivali. The man happened to be TV actress Sheena Bajaj's father, Raja Bajaj. I gave the audition, but couldn't deliver the dialogues well since I was untrained. He told me that I have a good face, but needed to have a better understanding of the profession and suggested that I assist him on a shoot."
Detailing her experience during the photoshoot in Lonavala, Sonal said, "After some time, he told me to try out a couple of outfits, though I wondered why he asked me to try out those outfits when the shoot was with another model. He had a bottle of cream in his hand and told me to apply it on my breasts before wearing those, as that would help in giving them a proper shape. Much to my horror, he came forward and applied the cream on my breasts forcibly. I got scared and ran away. What made the situation even scarier was that no one from my family was with me.”
"Later in the evening, when I went back to my room, from where I could see Raja drinking and chatting with the resort manager. He came to my room and said that 'Aapko main tantrik vidya sikhaunga, jisse aap raaton raat superstar bann jaogi'. You have to remove your clothes and sit naked in front of me and repeat the mantra I chant. I snubbed him and said that I didn't want to learn anything. He, then, stepped forward and tried to forcibly remove my clothes. I somehow managed to get out of the room and went straight to the model and her mother, who were in the adjoining room. Sometime later, the resort manager informed us that he had fled the scene without his belongings," she added.
Sonal reveals that in 2012 itself, she had filed a police complaint against Bajaj at the Kasturba Marg police station. Even the model and her mother who were there at the shoot recorded their statements.
Well, Bajaj has denied the actress’ allegations and says that it was Sonal who was asking for money from him. He said, "Sonal came to our house on March 7 and even demanded money. She asked for Rs. 3 lakh and came down to Rs. 1.5 lakh. When we refused, as we knew that we were not in the wrong, she mocked us by saying that we had made tall claims, but didn't have the money to pay her."