Karnataka film body to mediate in sexual harassment spat

Bengaluru: The Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) on Monday said it would mediate and hold a reconciliation meeting between Kannada actress Sruthi Hariharan and actor Arjun Sarja, who she had accused of sexually harassment.

“The members of KFCC has met over the sexual harassment allegations. We will soon hold a meeting between Arjun and Sruthi to resolve the issue,” KFCC president S.A. Chinne Gowda told reporters after the film body’s meeting.

The film association will address all the sexual harassment complaints that are brought to its notice, Gowda said.

The 29-year-old actress on Saturday shared in a Facebook post that the 54-year-old multi-lingual south Indian actor had sexually harassed her on the sets of a film in 2016.

“During a (film) rehearsal, we delivered our lines and Mr Arjun hugs me. With no forewarning or permission, he runs his hands intimately up and down my back. He pulls me closer with my body taut against his and asks the director if we could use this idea of foreplay in the scene,” the actress had stated in her post.

Former KFCC president Sa Ra Govindu, however, asked why it took the actress two years to raise the issue.

“Sruthi should have brought the incident to our attention long ago,” Govindu said.

Earlier in the day, Arjun’s father-in-law and senior Kannada actor Rajesh had lodged a complaint against the actress with the KFCC for defaming the actor (Arjun).

A few women also staged a protest in front of the film chamber’s office in the city centre during the day, demanding a “ban” on Sruthi in the Kannada film industry.

Arjun, popularly known as ‘Action King’ and acted in over 150 movies across Tamil, Telugu and Kannada languages, had, however, dismissed the allegations as “false”.

The actor had said he would soon file a defamation suit against Sruthi.

Bengaluru-based Sruthi, who has acted in several Kannada and Malayalam films since 2012, had said the incident left her “aghast” and that she could not raise the issue when it happened as there was no internal complaints committee in the film industry.

The ongoing #MeToo movement has given her courage to speak up, the actress said addressing media on Sunday.

Several Kannada actors and directors have also expressed their support to the actress.