Nagaraj Manjule, whose Marathi blockbuster Sairat is the current toast of regional cinema, has a past that he would rather forget.
Despite his strong female characters and forward settings in movie, the director is accused of being an abuser by his ex-wife Sunita.
In an interview to a popular website Sunita said, “I got married to Nagraj Manjule in 1997 when I was barely 18-19 years old. It was an arranged marriage, for our families decided our union. He was studying in his 12th standard when we became one. I hail from Chinchwad, Pune, and post marriage, I went on to live with his family in Jeur, Solapur.”
If that wasn't shocking enough, she further added to the site, "I was playing the role of looking after everyone’s well being. The family was big, and I used to be busy in household work throughout the day. Since his mother would be down with fever most of the time, the onus of being the woman of the house was always on me."
This does come as a huge shock because Nagraj is known to portray his women on screen as feisty individuals than submissive typical characters. Even in his latest offering Sairat, which is redefining Marathi cinema, the female character aka Archie is shown as a strong woman who rides bikes, tractors and wields guns when needed. Moreover, she takes the relationship in her hands and walks out of it instead of stewing in her lover's dominance. In fact, she comes back to her lover on her own terms...
From a man who gave us such an iconic character, the alleged abusive conduct with his former wife does seem bizarre.
Another incident that Sunita shared with the website involved her then-husband's National Award win for Fandry. She's alleged that Nagraj did not let her accompany him to the prestigious ceremony.
She told the site, "Not only did they go without me, they also locked me inside the house while they were leaving. I didn’t know what to do. I was at a loss for words. The husband I knew slowly vanished into the filmmaker. Whenever he would come, he would get his friends, sometimes male sometimes female, along. I would cook, serve and be the best host possible. But he would never even acknowledge my presence in front of his friends."
The couple is said to have divorced in 2012, with Nagraj supposedly paying Rs 7 Lakhs in alimony.
Sunita, who hasn't spoken publicly about these situations so far, added another incident to the site, "He made me go for 2-3 abortions, and whenever I raised my voice for keeping the child, he thrashed me, with his bare hands, leather belt and sometimes, a log of wood.”
According to the site, Sunita is working as a maid to support herself and her ailing parents.
Nagraj is yet to revert to these allegations. As soon as he does, we will bring it to you.