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#MeToo: Another talent manager Afsar Zaidi under the radar!

Comments  Comments [ 0 ]    By Shreejit Shelar | 23 October 2018 | 1:58pm

Bollywood talent manager and one of the founding member of India's biggest talent management agency, Anirban Das Blah was accused of sexual harassment, earlier this month. Over the past few days, #MeToo has gained momentum and many well-known faces are in the list of accused.

Moreover, there seems to be no end for the accusations made by the actresses, but another talent manager Afsar Zaidi is under the radar. He is the co-founder of Exceed Entertainment and another big player in the field of talent management. Afsar is known to hold many well-known celebrities as his clientele, which includes Saif Ali Khan and Sonakshi Sinha, among others. However, two actresses who wished to remain anonymous accused the co-founder of sexual misconduct and abuse of power.

While recalling her horrifying experience she reportedly informed mid-day that she had joined the company back in 2014 and Afsar asked her strange questions during the interview. Adding to it she said, "He would make me stand in the middle of the office and ask everyone to dress like me. Initially, it would be flattering, but after a point, it was systematic. On certain days, he would make comments like, 'Are we showing too much back today?' He would look me up and down."   

She also mentioned about Zaidi commenting about her dressing sense. Later, she had to travel for a month long international trip with regards to work. She said, "I was told that Ajit was an important client, and we had to keep him happy.

"I tried to brush it off and ignore it, often with a forced smile or a retort. I didn't want to upset my boss, it was my first job in this industry and my first big client. And honestly, I respected my CEO and I didn't know then what 'keeping him happy' really meant. But a few days later, I was asked to join them post-shoot, for a few drinks at a popular street which housed multiple bars. I made sure to drink very little and very slowly so as to stay completely sober as I had an early call time the next morning.

"I remember that agitating Ajit. They were loud and boisterous and I didn't make much of it, considering their alcohol levels. That is until my boss took me aside and told me that Ajit wanted women. And I was to help him get some. I recall looking at him with complete bewilderment. I thought he was joking at first. I was then asked to approach a few girls dancing at a distance and engage in conversation with them, eventually to convince them to join them for the night, with the hidden goal of Ajit taking them back to his hotel.

"When I timidly expressed that I wasn't comfortable doing it, I was told, 'Yeh sab karna padta hai, go Girl come one you can do this', or something implying the same, as if motivating me to do it. So, I squeamishly went near the girls and started dancing next to them. I tried to talk to them, ask them where they were from etc. I could see Ajit watching me like a hawk from the corner of my eye.

"I felt sick and decided I couldn't so I discreetly told them that they should go someplace before the men approached them but do not say anything. After that, I remember Ajit trying really hard to 'score' a few himself but he was unable. I guess that must have pissed him off because he proceeded to get completely trashed and continued the 'after party' in my CEOs room where he repeatedly came on to me. I remember making an excuse to leave a little later on the pretext of a walk, but I was followed to the beach by him where he just got relentless. I made my unavailability clear at that moment, as politely as I could, excused myself and went to my room."

After recalling her traumatic episode, she was completely shattered by the events which took place back in 2014. Further, she also added, about an office party which was held after a few months and she was sexually harassed by Afsar in a drunken state. She mentioned that he tried grabbing the people and pouring drinks down their throat. However, she initially succeeded dodging him, he grabbed her from behind, put his hands on her breasts and held her really tightly, and forced her to down a drink.

She reportedly claimed there were about 30 people around but nobody tried rescuing her. She remembered pushing him away with her elbow but she mentioned that he was completely drunk and tried to take advantage of another employee that evening.

Another victim also mentioned that the 2014 incident was a near rape incident and it was terrifying as no one from the firm tried to stop him.

While Mid-Day reached out to the accused, he said "The allegations that appear to have been made are without basis, and are an attempt to malign me and defame my reputation and that of my company. The company has in place a policy for sexual harassment at the workplace. If the complainant has a genuine case, let her come forward and present it before the ICC constituted by the firm. This matter should not be one for trial by the media there are systems in place in law and those should be used to ensure fairness and justice. I deny the allegations in entirety, they have been made without any basis or an iota of evidence. I plan to take appropriate legal action as may be advised."


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