Friday, December 23, 2005

'To be caged is the most horrible thing'

Permission to reprint or copy this article has to be obtained from The Hindustan Times

Interview/Pretti Jaiin

Shevlin Sebastian\Mumbai

One of the first things that strikes one when you see actress Pretti Jaiin is how petit she is. Even with high heels, she barely seems to reach 5’. Wearing a red t-shirt and pink trousers, she comes across as feisty and lively, even though, she says, she has “gone through hell”. The only child of a retired IFS officer, she was born in Cairo, and studied in London, Paris, Geneva, Brussels, Karachi and Delhi.
Are you still in love with Madhur Bandharkar?
I object to that question. I was never in love with him.
You had this relationship for five years.
Surely there must have been some feelings. I was never in love with him. I had a friendship with him, which later turned into a devastating rape. He would threaten me and my parents’ lives and forced me to do things, which I would never have done.
In the film Closer, there is this dialogue: “There's a moment, there's always a moment, where you say to yourself, ‘I can give in to this, or I can resist it.’ Do you regret the moment when you went ahead and slept with Bandharkar?
I regret meeting the man. It was the biggest mistake in my life. He enticed me by offering marriage and a lead role in one of his films.
Why did you take five years to report the rape?
I cannot understand why ‘five years’ is such a big issue. There are women out there who have undergone exploitation or rape for years on end and still don’t report it. At least, give me some credit for reporting it even after a period of time. In India, the social stigma is so great, it is not easy to come forward and report a rapist. What has been the reaction from society?
On the whole, it has been sympathetic.
Where do you think you will go from here?
I have great faith in God and in myself. Though I am suffering right now from the mental trauma that I am undergoing and the physical discomfort.
What physical discomfort?
I have just come from jail. I was in custody for 25 days. It was the most horrible experience that anybody can go through. I have suffered mental agony and physical trauma. Women constables pulled my hair and pushed me around whenever they escorted me to court. It was the most horrible thing to be caged like an animal and, that too, for something, which I have not done.
What did you feel then?
The very first thought was of committing suicide. For any person who enters a lock-up, the first thought that crosses the mind is suicide.
And then?
You keep contemplating it until God saves you from it.
You were with other women?
During judicial custody, I was placed with murderers and pimps. Then I was joined by Tarannum Khan [the bar girl dancer].
What sort of an encounter did you have with Tarannum?
It was two women facing the worst moments of their lives.
Is there a casting couch in Bollywood?
I would not say the casting couch is a normal thing, but it does exist. In the industry, there are a lot of professional producers and directors, who are very genuine about their work and who are looking for talent and would not compromise on that. However, if an actress is unfortunate she might encounter wolves in sheep’s clothing.
What is the percentage of these type of people?
Around 50 per cent.
So to get a chance with these people, actresses have to sleep around?
I would not like to comment on other actresses. I respect my seniors who are full of talent.
Are you getting any film offers?
Yes, but I have not given any confirmation to any project.
Are people afraid to touch you?
There is no need to touch me. You only have to direct me.

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