Singer Shweta Pandit has shared an incident from 17 years ago when composer Anu Malik allegedly asked her for a kiss in exchange for work when she was 15 years old.
Singer Shweta Pandit has joined the long list of women in the Hindi film industry to name and shame their sexual harassers as part of the #MeToo movement raging across the country. She has shared a detailed account of an incident from 17 years ago when music composer Anu Malik allegedly made sexual advances towards her when she was 15 years old.
Shweta called Anu Malik a paedophile and sexual predator in a long note shared on Twitter on Wednesday. “Had to go back to my worst memory as a teenage girl today to write this and speak up – its now or never. This is my #MeToo and have to warn young girls about #AnuMalik & let you know your #TimesUp @IndiaMeToo Thank you @sonamohapatra for speaking up about him & supporting this,” she wrote in her tweet.
Had to go back to my worst memory as a teenage girl today to write this and speak up – its now or never. This is my #MeToo and have to warn young girls about #AnuMalik & let you know your #TimesUp @IndiaMeToo
Thank you @sonamohapatra for speaking up about him & supporting this
In the note, Shweta details the incident from 2001 when she met Anu for work. Her songs from 2000’s Mohabbatein had become huge hits and she was now looking for more work. She said she was an admirer of the musician and was thrilled when she got a call from Malik’s manager to come to Andheri’s Empire Studio in mid 2001 to meet him.
Malik then asked Pandit to sing a few lines for a voice test and after hearing her, said he’ll give her a song if she ‘gave him a kiss’. Shweta says she was traumatised by the incident. Calling it the “worst experience of my life”, the singer said she was depressed for months after the incident and could not even bring it up with her parents.
Read her full note here:
It has taken a lot in me to open up this wound again and speak up against this pedophile and sexual predator. It was the year 2000 when i was launched as a lead singer with #Mohabbatein (was the youngest singer back then in the Indian music industry) and was trying to get other good songs to follow up with the success of that soundtrack and the outstanding welcome it gave me in the music industry. I got a call from Anu Malik’s then manager (Mustafa) to come to #empirestudio in andheri sometime in mid 2001. I was thrilled like any singer would be. I used to admire his music and practice his songs for hours and look upto him back then! He was recording a group song with Sunidhi and Shaan for the film Awara Pagal Deewana, when my mother and i walked in the monitor room. He told me to wait in the small cabin inside where singers sang at Empire studio. It was just him and me there.
He asked me to sing something without any music as he wanted to hear my voice. I remember i sang the title song of har dil jo pyar karega as a voice test for this man. I sang it well so he said, “ill give you this song with Sunidhi and Shaan but first give me a kiss now” He then smiled, what id recall the most evil grin ive seen. I went numb and pale in the face. I was only 15years old then, still in school. Can anyone even imagine what it felt that moment? It felt like someone had just stabbed me in my stomach. I referred to this man as “Anu uncle”, he knew my entire family for decades and knew us as a respected gharana of musicians for generations who have given our entire lives dedicated to music for 4 generations.
He addressed my father as “Mandheer bhai”. And he does this to his bhai’s daughter? He has 2 young daughters of his own and thats how he treated a 15 year old minor girl. It was the worst experience of my life and i could never speak about it even to my parents. I could never ask any help to heal but was depressed for months. I cried endlessly after this incident and it affected my psyche as a young girl, so much that i could have left the industry but i re-thought and fought with my will-power that why should i leave my greatest passion for a pedophile like him but i still kept struggling for years to bury this inside me. I am sure many singers have been exploited by him as he is a known name for doing this to singers. Id urge those singers/women to share their stories too.
A week ago, singer Sona Mohapatra had also called Malik as a “serial predator”.
In response to Pandit’s allegation, Mohapatra thanked her for speaking up and calling out Malik.
“Sending you love, big healing and strength @ShwetaPandit7. That #AnuMalik did this to you as a child is something #India has to make note of. Thank you so much for being brave and bringing this out in the open. I know how difficult that is and the pressure to let ‘bygones be bygones’.
Sending you love,big healing & strength @ShwetaPandit7 .That #AnuMalik did this to you as a child is something #India has to make note of.Thank U so much for being brave & bringing this out in the open.I know how difficult that is & the pressure to let ‘bygones be bygones’. (1)
“That so many people trolled me for my #AnuMalik #TimesUp story scoffing because they think calling me ‘Maal’ or calling up at odd hours doesn’t constitute as sexual harassment. Please note, you don’t know Sh*t. Predators do much worse when they get a chance because of people like you,” she wrote on Twitter.
When contacted for a response to Pandit’s allegatins, Malik told PTI, “No comments. This is ridiculous. I don’t want to talk about it. Today anyone says anything.”
Shweta said the incident left her depressed for months. “I could have left the industry but I rethought. Why should I leave my greatest passion for a paedophile like him?” she wrote. Anu Malik told PTI, “No comments. This is ridiculous. I don’t want to talk about it. Today anyone says anything.”
CINTAA meanwhile announced the setting up of a committee to tackle sexual harassment along Vishaka guidelines. Lawyer Vrinda Grover, actors Swara Bhasker, Raveena Tandon and Renuka Shahane, filmmaker Amol Gupte and journalist Bharati Dubey will be part of the committee. Fifty percent will be women.
But CINTAA expressed helplessness at taking up cases that are under legal process, like that of Alok Nath.