At first we thought Bollywood actor Yuvraaj Parashar was disowned by his family for starring in Dunno Y… Na Jaane Kyun, where he played a gay man in what’s been dubbed India’s Brokeback Mountain. But is Parashar actually a gay man IRL? In defending the single-name Indian film director Onir — whose films tackled everything from AIDS to gays to abuse — against rumors that he sexually molested Parashar, gay activist Ashok Row Kavi has outed the actor. Or is Parashar’s sexuality one big open secret? And are these sexual assault claims legit?
Kavi, who is the chairperson of the LGBT advocacy group Humsafar Trust, insists Onir, 41, has been framed by the actor. Parashar has alleged Onir sexually molested him when Onir invited him to a private screening at his home.
“I have tremendous sense of respect for Onir,” says Kavi. “Unlike five other leading directors in the industry, he’s the only person who’s come on board with his sexuality not just through his films but also in his acceptance of himself. Yuvraaj is a struggling actor who came to Mumbai eight years back and has been using all means possible to get any kind of publicity.”
And how does Kavi know Parashar is gay? Because he saw him at the Kashish Film Festival, being all gay and stuff. “Yuvraaj came with his partner and everyone knows he’s gay. He even has a tattoo of a guy named Bunty on his forearm, who he dated years ago.” But that’s where Kavi’s defense of Onir goes awry: “How can some one who has slept with men allege sexual abuse?”
Um, because being gay doesn’t mean you can never say No to another man’s sexual advances? The same way a straight girl can refuse a straight man’s desires?
“If he was raped or molested, he should’ve gone to the cops and got a forensic test done rather than going to the press with a juicy story,” says Kavi of Parashar. “At least Onir didn’t deny the meeting and had the honesty to accept that it was consensual. I think other closeted directors need to be warned that there are predators like Yuvraaj lurking around and that they should be on their guard.”
Indeed, it appears Parashar first went to the media, and not the police, with his claim: “It”s not at all a publicity stunt,” insists Parashar. “This incident happened with me two days ago and I tried to stay away from media but it is a question of my integrity. I will also take legal action. I have got my medical check up done and will go to police. I went to him (Onir) as an actor and he should have respected it.”
And now Onir is battling the media storm, posting on Facebook: “I am ANGRY and TRAUMATISED. How can someone use my trust and kindness and get away with cheap publicity by spreading VILE LIES in the media? I want to tell you all I am not going to make a publicity stunt out of this but will fight this LEGALLY. I will not let anyone get away by damaging my DIGNITY and INTEGRITY.” Not surprisingly, Onir also plans legal action: “This is a lie and blackmail for cheap publicity. I am contemplating legal action. I will not be ashamed of myself and not let anyone malign me.”
It’ll be disgraceful if Parashar is lying, and his allegations against Onir truly are a publicity stunt. But whether he is straight or gay does not change the fact that when somebody says No, that is where any sexual advances should stop. For now it’s unclear how far things between the actor and director allegedly went, though Parashar saying he had his “medical check up done” suggests there is, well, some rectal evidence to be had. But from the get-go, this seems like a he-said he-said matter. Not that it’s going to stop Bollywood gossips from reaching any number of theories.