Arjun Sarja molested 4 actresses: Sruthi Hariharan

Arjun Sarja molested 4 actresses: Sruthi Hariharan

Another #Metoo bombshell surfaces

Actress Sruthi Hariharan with actor Chetan and filmmaker Kavitha Lankesh at a press conference on Saturday. DH PHOTO/MANJUNATH M S

Dropping another #MeToo bombshell, actress Sruthi Hariharan said on Sunday that four more women from the film industry were sexually harassed by multilingual actor Arjun Sarja. 

Addressing a press conference, Sruthi said that after she spoke up about how Sarja had touched her "inappropriately" during the shoot of 'Vismaya', four other actresses had narrated similar experiences but they remained anonymous. "I wish they come out in the open," she said. 

She continued: "I have acted with superstars like Darshan and Sudeep but none of them misbehaved with me. Only this actor (Arjun Sarja) misbehaved with me. I have been collecting evidence to fight him legally, and whenever time permits, I will give those details." 

Sruthi got a flood of support from various quarters, including actor Prakash Rai, but the Kannada film industry remained divided over her explosive accusation. 

Rai wrote on Facebook: "Sruthi Hariharan is indeed a talented actress in Sandalwood. Similarly, we shall not forget that senior actor Arjun Sarja is also our pride. But in the wake of Sruthi's allegation, all of us need to understand the trauma that this woman has undergone. Even though Arjun has denied the charges, he must apologize to her for hurting her on that day." 

Actress Shraddha Srinath tweeted in Sruthi's support. "Sruthi and Taapsee are my heroes of today." Sruthi also got support from actresses Neethu Shetty and Ragini Dwivedi. 

Meanwhile, the Film Industry for Equality and Rights (FIRE) has called on other women to speak up against sexual harassment. The organisation's chairperson, Kavitha Lankesh, and its secretary Chetan Kumar promised to support all such women. 

Sarja, too, found supporters in several producers and actors while his daughter and actress Aishwarya Arjun called Sruthi's allegations "disturbing and false". "I would say it is conniving as this is something least expected of her. I had admired her whenever she stood up against harassment. But now I understand why she stood up for such issues as it is the only stuff that gained momentum over anything else," Aishwarya told DH. 

Aishwarya said her family knew who was behind the accusation but she refused to take names. "How could she presume what my dad's intention was? One just cannot accuse the other based on what they think. In fact, during the premiere of the movie, she was happily speaking to him. No woman, if she was ever harassed, would do so. Now, she is lying," she added. 


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