#MeToo in Bollywood: 'The Fault in Our Stars' Remake Director Suspended

Courtesy of Fox Star Studios India
'Kizie Aur Manny'

Production of the film from Fox Star Studios India, part of 21st Century Fox's Star India network, has been put on hold pending an inquiry against casting director-turned-debutant director Mukesh Chhabra.

Fox Star Studios India, part of 21st Century Fox's Star India network, has suspended Mukesh Chhabra from directing the Bollywood remake of The Fault in Our Stars pending an inquiry against him over sexual harassment allegations.

Shooting of the remake, entitled Kizie Aur Manny, has been put on hold.

Chhabra is one of Bollywood's best-known casting directors and was making his directorial debut with the film. Sexual harassment allegations against him and another casting director, Vicky Sadana, were reported last week by the Mid-Day newspaper, quoting unnamed aspiring actors. The story quoted one accuser as saying that, during an audition, Chhabra "grabbed me hard and felt me up." Chhabra has denied the charges, telling the newspaper that he would pursue "every possible legal action to protect my reputation."

The matter is being investigated by the Internal Complaints Committee of his company, Mukesh Chhabra Casting Company.

In a statement Friday, Fox Star Studios India said that "as a responsible organization, Star India takes any allegation of sexual harassment of women at [the] workplace very seriously." It added that Chhabra was suspended until "the Internal Complaints Committee of Mukesh Chhabra Casting Company concludes its inquiry into the allegations against him."

Meanwhile, the film's lead actor, Sushant Singh Rajput, also refuted allegations that surfaced on social media alleging that he made his co-star, actress Sanjana Sanghi, "uncomfortable" on set and that, according to reports, Chhabra "did not take a stand" on the issue. In a tweet on Friday, Rajput dismissed the allegations as a "smear campaign."

A wave of #MeToo allegations has hit Bollywood celebrities, affecting the status of various upcoming projects. This includes comedy sequel Housefull 4, whose director, Sajid Khan, had to step down from the project, which was slated to go into production, following sexual misconduct allegations. Starring Akshay Kumar and produced by Sajid Nadiadwala, the film was to be distributed by Fox Star Studios.