‘Saif hit me and my mother too’

Gay activist Ashok Row Kavi recounts the horror of being bashed up by Saif Ali Khan in 1995

Saif Ali Khan is a spoilt kid. That's what the long and short of it is. Firstly, nobody knows what provokes him. That disgusting morning in 1995, my doorbell rang at Santacruz and a friend opened the door. I saw Saif standing outside the safety grill and made the mistake of opening the door.

That was the first mistake. I thought he wanted to discuss whatever he had said the day before to me regarding a review of his film in ‘Bombay Dost’ the gay magazine  I edit and publish. The review said that his latest film, the iconic ‘Main Anadi, Tu Khiladi', was a straightforward gay movie (that's a bit of a Freudian slip) because the two heroes were so much in love with each other that the heroines were superfluous. I had recommended it as India's entry to the San Francisco Sundance Festival and that seems to have set off a huge bout of hysterical homophobia. He said so on the phone.

Read: Saif arrested, granted bail

But the last straw for him was the fact that I had mocked his mother Sharmila Tagore, the darling of the Bombay-Delhi glitterati, in the ill-fated 'Nikki Tonite' show on Star TV, just a week before. ‘Nikki Tonite’ was India’s first chat show hosted by Kabir Bedi’s ex-wife in the 1990s.

I requested him to sit down instead of pacing up and down my living room like a caged panther. Instead, he just suddenly turned around and hit me on the side of my face. It was a totally unexpected move and I went for him. Unfortunately my mother tried to calm him down. Instead of trying to calm down, Saif hit her too and she fell down.

That was inexcusable and showed a crass upbringing. I don't know about all that Chotey Nawab-giri that the fawning film media goes on about but let me say that on that day I saw the ugly side of Bollywood. I've grown up in Bollywood and my father was one of the first presidents of the Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association and also started the Motion Pictures Distributors’ Association before Bollywood descended to become the cesspool the Khans have brought it down to.

Read: Bollywood Fight Club

I've seen the great Meena Kumari totally drunk but boy did she know how to behave. Men like Raj Kapoor would have drunk Saif under any table but they always respected women in public spaces. This trash is different.

The real story is how the police delayed taking down the FIR or even serving the court warrants on him. It seems he paid off the constable and told them he wasn't in town or abroad. It took one full year to serve a warrant on him and another to bring him to the Bandra Metropolitan Court. Finally, I did manage to put him into a pen there meant for petty thieves and criminals. Imagine my shock when he apologised in open court. It was a horrible anticlimax; that I had fought for three years to squeeze out a simple apology out of the creep.

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