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Mandana Karimi alleges harassment on sets of new film, producer says she acted unprofessionally

Actor Mandana Karimi has claimed that on the last day of the shoot of her upcoming film, Koka Kola, the producer of the film, Mahendra Dhariwal, misbehaved with her. The producer, in turn, accused her of showing unprofessional behaviour.

Mandana has often spoken about staying alone in Mumbai, how she does not have a godfather in the industry. She is known for her work in films such as Kya Kool Hain Hum and Bhaag Johnny.

As per a report in Times of India, the showdown took place a day before Diwali, when the shoot of Koka Kola was nearly done. Mandana was quoted as saying: “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.”

In the story, she then went on to describe how on the last day of the shoot, she wanted to wrap up her bit and leave as she had another meeting lined up. That day she came early and clocked in the necessary hours. Around the time of the wrap-up, the producer asked her to stay an extra hour but she refused as she had a meeting. He was okay with it and she went back and finished a few last takes. They were shooting a song. “But the moment I left the set and went to my vanity van to change, he forcefully came inside and started shouting ‘You can’t leave. I asked you to do an extra hour and you have to listen because I am the producer and I have paid you’.”

Producer Mahendra shared his own version of the story. He was quoted in the same copy as saying: “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.”

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He then went on to explain how the day unfolded. He said that the shooting schedule was from 9 am to 9 pm. The production team had created a set to shoot a song. At 7 pm, she said she had to leave. He then requested her to wait an hour extra as the song had to completed on that particular day. At 8 pm, she got up to leave when there were still a few shots to be canned. He said he ran after her to stop her. He told her that he would have to incur a loss if he had to shoot next day again. But she wasn’t willing to stay back, and it was only then that he lost his cool as she began to pack up. Mandana later began to make videos of him screaming but he told her that he was not scared. He entered the vanity van for about 10-15 seconds after she entered, and did so after knocking. He claimed it was she who asked him to enter. He added how there were many people on the sets and how they would vouch for what he had said. Koka Kola also stars Sunny Leone.

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