Mandana Karimi, in an interview with a leading daily, has accused the producer of her upcoming film Koka Kola of workplace harassment. The Iranian actress told the daily that producer Mahendra Dhariwal allegedly misbehaved with her on the last day of her shoot. Calling him an old-school man who turns sets into a male-dominated and egoistic place, Mandana claimed the incident shook her. She added that she had problems with the crew since the beginning.
"I am still in shock about what happened and how it happened. Koka Kola is a film that we have been working on for over a year now, and it’s been one of those jobs that you do despite knowing that the team is not being very professional. We all end up doing a few such jobs to just keep ourselves afloat. From the beginning, I had problems with this crew. The producer (Mahendra Dhariwal) is an old-school man who turns the set into a man-dominated, egoistic place. There are places where projects are driven by one person’s ego. That’s not new, but what happened on November 13 has shaken me up," Mandana told.
Mandana recalled her last day of the shoot. Claiming that she had a meeting lined up after completing Koka Kola's shoot, Mandana said just before wrapping the day, the producer asked her for an extra hour. Due to her tight schedule, she refused. Mandana mentioned after completing a song, she went to her vanity van and Mahendra followed her and forcefully came inside. Mandana stated that Mahendra started shouting at her. "It’s the strangest job I have done in my nine years in India. He started creating a scene on the set along with his son and calling me names. It’s unsettling how they have behaved with me as an artiste and as a woman," she added.
Responding to Mandana's allegations, Mahendra told the daily, "We were shooting for Koka Kola with Sunny Leone and Mandana Karimi before the pandemic hit us. The shoot was halted due to the lockdown. We had signed Mandana for Rs 7 lakhs, but once the shooting began and got into continuity, she started acting up. Like when we were shooting in Delhi and she had to stay back for a day, she demanded Rs 2 lakh to be paid to her. Post-lockdown, when we started planning our shoot again, and we reached out to her for dates, she said she is busy. She demanded a sum of Rs 2 lakh a day for these new dates. She wanted the money to be paid in advance, which I did."
Calling Mandana's behaviour unprofessional, Mahendra added, "On the last day, the shift was from 9 am to 9 pm. We had a set created and a song was being shot. At 7 pm, she said she has to leave. I requested her that we have to complete this today and I asked if she could wait for an hour more. She said okay and went back on set. At 8 pm, she got a call and she went into her vanity van. I ran after her to stop her from leaving because we still had a few shots left. I told her I would run into a loss as I will have to shoot the next day again. She wasn’t willing to stay back, and that is when I gave her an earful because she started packing up. Mandana started making videos of me screaming; I told her I am not scared. I entered the vanity van in about 10-15 seconds after she entered, and I knocked before entering. She asked me to step in. Public khadi thi bahar, and I was standing on the steps of the van. I requested for an additional 15 minutes, but I lost my cool when she started acting up. Later, she came back on the shooting floor and started making my videos. There were hundreds of people on the sets who can vouch for what I am saying. Prince, director-choreographer Ahmed Khan’s associate, who was choreographing, will tell you. In one-and-a-half years, for a contract of Rs 7 lakhs, she has taken Rs 17 lakhs, cash transactions included. I am okay with spending the money, but she has behaved unprofessionally with us."
(Source: Times Of India)