Filmmaker Sajid Nadiadwala’s comedy sequel Housefull 4 suddenly seems little empty at the top storey. This morning the franchise director Sajid Khan, against whom a series of sexual allegations were leveled by an actress, assistant director and journalist respectively in the wake of the #MeToo movement, stepped down remorsefully from the film. And now PeepingMoon.com has learned that Nana Patekar, who acts in Housefull 4 and is the main villain of #MeToo after former actress Tanushree Dutta spoke against him last week, will most likely be leaving the film too.
Two big names stepping down from one of the biggest films being made in one day is going to hurt and cost producer Sajid Nadiadwala dearly. Sources say that over 60 per cent of Housefull 4 has already been completed in three schedules and the fourth one was to begin in Mumbai today on an elaborate set costing over Rs. 14 crore at Lokhandwala. That’s when Akshay Kumar, the lead actor in the film and series, took a stand in support of the #MeToo allegations against Sajid and Nana and cancelled today’s shoot.
Akshay, who was in Italy when #MeToo broke out, said in a statement, “I’ve just landed back in the country last night and reading all the news has been very disturbing. I’ve requested the producers of Housefull 4 to cancel the shoot until further investigation. This is something that requires stringent action. I will not work with any proven offenders and all those who have been subjugated to harassment should be heard and given the justice they deserve.”
The Bollywood superstar’s heartfelt move is being compared to those made in support of #MeToo by Aamir Khan and Hrithik Roshan earlier. Aamir was to act in and co-produce the biopic Mogul under director Subhash Kapoor. But the actor quickly distanced himself from the project once it became known that Subhash was accused of sexually harassing actress Geetika Tyagi in the past. And Hrithik, who made Super 30 with Vikas Bahl, stepped in and took over post-production of this biopic after Bahl was removed from the film over sexual harassment allegations made by a former employee of Phantom Films.
Bollywood sources say Aamir was reluctant to do Mogul and his decision came organically because no work had started on the film and the producers would not run into any losses. “#MeToo came at a convenient time,” said a trade source. Whereas Hrithik’s call was also comfortably made because shooting for Super 30 was wrapped up before Bahl was removed and there was no question of any re-shooting. But with Akshay taking a stand and Sajid and Nana stepping down, producer Nadiadwala would have to reshoot a sizeable portion of Housefull 4 at his cost that would also set back the schedule by five days.
“There’s a difference between #MeToo affecting Mogul, Super 30 and Housefull 4,” said a source. “Akshay’s is the most impactful decision made in Bollywood in support of #MeToo. Housefull 4 is being made by a friend, was directed by a friend, and co-stars friends. Yet, he went with the courage of his conviction and did the right thing because what is wrong – is simply not done in Akshay’s book. It is a big day, and a sad day, for Bollywood. A day of ups and downs. Of triumph registered even in the face of loss.”