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Ajit Thakur, veteran entertainment executive, is accused of harassment

Supriya Prasad, a writer, has written to the Screen Writers' Association narrating her ordeal when Thakur allegedly forced her to have drinks and misbehaved with her.

Ajit Thakur

Mayur Lookhar

A writer named Supriya Prasad has accused veteran entertainment executive Ajit Thakur of sexual harassment.

Thakur is currently head of the content studio of the media and entertainment business of Reliance Industries.

Earlier this year, the Mukesh Ambani-owned company had announced a joint venture with Eros International to produce content for its telecom venture Jio.

At the same time, Eros Group chief executive officer and managing director Jyoti Deshpande stepped down after more than 17 years with the company to head Reliance's media and entertainment business as president in the chairman's office. 

Supriya Prasad sent her complaint to the Screen Writers’ Association (SWA). A copy of her e-mail has gone viral on social media.

The writer alleged that in April this year, she was asked by Thakur to come for an interview at 8pm at a friend’s place where he allegedly indulged in indecent conduct.

In her e-mail to the SWA, Supriya Prasad wrote that on 15 April 2018, Thakur sent her a message on the professional networking website Linkedin, asking her to come for an interview at the Reliance office.

Seemingly impressed by her candidature, Thakur allegedly told her that an offer letter would be sent soon. “A week later, he texted me saying I should meet the people on board at Ronak’s place (some marketing guy I don’t know) at Vile Parle at 8pm,” Prasad wrote.

Though reluctant, she agreed. Even while standing below the apartment, she said, she was in two minds. Eventually, she decided to step in. Thakur's friend Ronak was the only one present. Half an hour later, Thakur arrived.

“When Ajit entered, he hugged me (which was unexpected). Then he asked me to drink. I refused thrice saying I don't drink because I don’t like the taste of it. He insisted that I should drink, that he will make a good one. He brought the glass for me and again I refused. But he kept insisting and so I took the glass,” she wrote.

According to the writer's account, producer Yash Patnaik arrived after some time with some actress. Another young woman was supposed to join them. During the conversation, Thakur allegedly made some lewd comments.

"Ajit made some lewd comments in between. He asked if I had a boyfriend and I said yes, to which he said, 'Was the sex so good that he became your boyfriend?' I was stunned. He went on blabbering about the sex scenario in India and the US,” she continued. 

The young woman was feeling uncomfortable. Luckily for her, a friend, Priya Kumar, kept calling as she was to spend the night at Prasad’s place.

"Yash Patnaik made another drink and insisted I drink," she wrote in her e-mail. "Both of them were acting very pushy. I had already said I don't drink. Ajit kept one arm at the other girl’s shoulder and the other arm at my shoulder. He turned his head and kissed her on the forehead, then turned towards me and kissed my forehead, too. I was shocked, I removed his arm and sat down. They all brought cocaine on the table and started sniffing one after the other.”

The woman said Thakur led her to the kitchen insisting she sniff the cocaine and forcibly kissed her on the cheek. Prasad lost it. Around midnight, she insisted she had to leave. Thakur then asked Patnaik to drop her home.

“Ajit said Yash would drop me home and sort of interview me," she wrote to the SWA. "Yash talked about content and stuff and placed his hand on my thigh. I twitched and straightened. He removed his hand and continued to talk. Finally, I reached home.”

Supriya Prasad said she felt traumatized by what she had been through. A few days later, she said, she called Thakur and told him it was not right for him to force himself upon her. Remarkably, Thakur allegedly said he needed a chance to prove himself and that she should not snub the job offer. 

A couple of weeks later, Prasad received the offer letter but she rejected it. “I lashed out at him saying ... what he did was brutally wrong and that I could go to the lawyer and 10 other people are ready to vouch for me. He kept pleading that whatever he did was out of fondness and he deserves another chance to make it up to me. He requested that I meet him over coffee and give him a chance to apologize but I refused. (I've saved an audio recording of it)," she wrote.

Read Supriya Prasad’s full letter to the Screen Writers' Association: 

Calls and text messages to Ajit Thakur did not elicit any response. We called Yash Patnaik who said he was busy in a meeting. Prior to joining the new venture, Thakur was CEO of Trinity Pictures, a production arm of Eros International. 

An industry veteran, Thakur has worked with brands like STAR India, where he was executive vice-president and business head, Life OK and Channel [V].  He was also EVP and business head at Sony Entertainment Television. The Indian Institute of Management alumnus started his career with the Coca-Cola Company in India and later also worked for Hindustan Unilever.

The joint venture between Reliance Industries and Eros International is rumoured to be working on the ambitious Mahabharat franchise with Aamir Khan's name being linked with the project.

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Sexual harassment