#MeToo: Sruthi files complaint against Arjun Sarja

#MeToo: Sruthi files complaint against Arjun Sarja

Sandalwood actress Shruthi Hariharan. DH photo

After a fracas that originated from an allegation made by Sandalwood actress Sruthi Hariharan, the actress lodged a sexual harassment complaint against multilingual actor Arjun Sarja on Saturday.

Sruthi approached the Cubbon Park police and filed a detailed 5-page complaint alleging unwelcome sexual advances at the hands of Arjun Sarja. The police have registered an FIR and have booked Arjun Sarja under IPC sections 354 - sexual harassment, 509 - words or gestures intended to outrage the modesty of a woman, and 506 - criminal intimidation. The police are yet to question the accused.

The complaint mentions three separate incidents spanning over two years.

November 2015

In her complaint to the police, Sruthi narrated the ordeal she went through during November 2015, when she was shooting for the bilingual flick “Vismaya.” The shooting was in a bungalow near Presidency College in Hebbal. Sruthi alleged in her complaint

“During the rehearsal, Arjun Sarja amorously started cuddling, touching my hips, moving up to my bra and bringing the movement of hand down to my hip and further brought it to the thigh. I took exception that he behaved inappropriately out of context rehearsal I silently suffered and was unable to express since I was an upcoming artist and that apart he was a senior established artist having clout in the industry and the power corridors.”

"Before I could react, he again pulled her very close to him and held me tightly moving his hands behind my back and asking the director whether “we can improvise like this in the scene.”

Though Sruthi approached the director and told him she cannot work like this, nothing happened.

There was another scene where Sruthi and Arjun were supposed to lie down in a bed together, and taking advantage of the situation, he pulled my hand forcing me to come very close to him, hug him, but I pushed his hand, finished the scene and came out of the set, Sruthi alleged in her complaint.

December 2015

In December 2015, there was a schedule in a hospital at Devanahalli between 7.30 am and 5 pm. “Repeatedly, Arjun Sarja made advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures, asking me to join him after shooting in his private place saying “we can spend private time together,” she alleged.

In the same month, while she was travelling in a car with her team to her house, the car had stopped at a signal in Devanahalli. “Arjun Sarja’s car came by the side of my car, rolled down his windows and asked me “Come Know, to resort.” When she asked him what was the purpose, he told: “to have pleasant time, which I have been asking but repeatedly you are denying, today I have full time and there is no one in my room.”


July 2016

On July 18, 2016, Sruthi had gone to UB City for a film shot schedule for the same movie. “I was in the lobby for some time, when Arjun Sarja came behind me held my back hard and told me “why are you waiting alone at the lobby, why don’t you accompany me to my room, I am alone too, we will have some fun,” she stated in her complaint.

When Sruthi refused saying “I cannot come”, he said I will make you to come to my private room one day.” He also said her “Be careful, I will ruin your career, if you tell anyone, I will pull you to various places and make your life miserable.

Sruthi repeatedly felt taking appropriate legal action, but could not muster courage as she was an upcoming artist and fearing it could jeopardise her career. It was then she noticed the #MeToo movement that was gaining momentum where artists like her who suffered sexual harassment and who could not vent it out found it as a platform to express their ordeals. She then posted her ordeal hashtagging #MeToo campaign further to which Arjun Sarja threatened to file a defamation. He lodged an extortion complaint against Sruthi and a few others. Sruthi filed a complaint against Arjun’s close aide Prashanth Sampargi for life threats.

On Saturday, three years after the first alleged incident, Sruthi lodged the sexual harassment complaint against Arjun Sarja.  

DH has obtained a copy of the complaint filed by Sruthi. 

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