From surprise, sympathy, criticism to faith in judiciary, actor Shiney Ahuja’s conviction in a rape case has evoked mixed reaction in film fraternity.The 38-year-old actor, who made his debut in 2003 in Sudhir Mishra’s critically acclaimed Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi, was yesterday sentenced to seven-year rigorous jail term by a court here for raping his maid in 2009. Ahujahas pleaded innocence and will challenge the conviction.
“I was surprised with the verdict as even after the maid retracted her statement (denying rape charge), the court pronounced him guilty. I have interacted with him and he did not come across as a person of that brutal nature. I believe the fight for good is not easy,” filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt said.
Bhatt, who produced the 2006 hit Gangster featuring the actor, said the conviction was a blow to Ahuja. “It is a dark dead end for him.”
“Look at the brighter side of the conviction than listening to those who believe the legal system does injustice in such cases. Despite the victim retracting her statement, the court held him guilty,” he said.
“The court might have some evidence to hold him guilty. I have heard he is going to appeal against the conviction I am sure the truth will come out,” said actor-producer Farhan Akhtar.
“We have a legal system in our country; so if he is saying the truth then he will come out free. I feel bad for the family and his first child and wish a for lot of strength for them,” Akhtar said.
Akhtar dismissed the suggestion that the judgment will adversely affect the image of the Hindi film industry.
“There is no relation between the case and the industry. I guess it makes no difference as it is individual action. If we have one sportsman fixing a match that does not mean we call the entire team match fixers?”
“I have nothing much to say about it. We have our legal system and law will take its own course. We have to follow the legal system,” actor Abhishek Bachchan said.
Actor Arshad Warsi came out in support of Shiney, saying “judiciary should stop targeting actors”.
“I am NOT saying he’s right, but don’t forget that (Ajmal) Kasab (26/11 convict) is still enjoying our hospitality. Murderers, terrorists and corrupt politicians are walking free and Shiney Ahuja gets seven years (in jail). Judiciary should stop targeting actors so blatantly,” Warsi wrote on micro-blogging site twitter.
“My point is all criminals should be punished. It’s not fair to make an example of an actor only because it makes news. Do you know the no. of rapes that take place in our country on a daily basis involving influential and connected people…those cases r not even registered,” Warsi said.