Scandal Flashback: Ayesha Jhulka's Fight With a Filmmaker
Find out why the Khiladi star was enraged
The prim and propah Ayesha Jhulka was scandalised when she discovered that a body double had been used for a scandalous scene in her movie. She didn't take the betrayal lightly and waged war against the director and producer.
Ayesha Jhulka was one of the most promising actresses of the 90s. She was quite popular after starring in hits like Khiladi and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. However she was pretty clear about one thing – however good the role, she wouldn’t expose on screen. She felt her acting prowess was enough to prove her mettle and there was no need for skin show.
Prakash Mehra - Producer-Director
Ayesha worked with a lot of top filmmakers of the time and one of them was Prakash Mehra who signed her for Dalaal directed by Partho Ghosh. Things went on smoothly until one day she realised that Partho and Prakash had shot for a revealing scene using a body double, without her knowledge! A livid Ayesha lodged complaints against both of them and made a huge noise about the ‘betrayal’.
Interestingly, she realised what had happened only a day before the release of the film when she got a phone call from a reporter. The scribe, who had seen the trial show asked her why she did such a hot scene. The actress was completely taken aback as she had not shot for anything close to what was described to her. That’s when it hit her that Prakash Mehra and Partho Ghosh had cheated her. In a rape scene, they had included shots depicting Ayesha’s bare back using a body duplicate. Not only did they do this without her consent they hadn’t even bothered to inform her. The entire thing was done so stealthily that Ayesha didn’t realise something was amiss even when she dubbed for the movie. It’s no wonder the actress was livid.
A still from the movie Dalaal starring Mithun Chakraborthy
In an interview to an entertainment magazine, Ayesha rued even signing Dalaal. She said, “In the first place, mummy didn’t want me to do this film because the name itself was filthy (dalaal is used to address people who solicit women). So we had initially refused it but Mrs Prakash Mehra repeatedly reassured us and promised that her husband was making a clean film. Mummy finally agreed on the condition that I wouldn’t do any indecent scenes.”
During the making of the film, Ayesha was warned by the crew that Mehra and Partho Ghosh were shooting some scenes behind her back using a body double. When she confronted them, the filmmakers initially denied any wrongdoing but then admitted to it and apologised for their sneaky behaviour. In fact, Ayesha also asked her manager to get a letter from them agreeing that no body double would be used to shoot any scenes without her knowledge. The filmmakers gave her their word but nothing was issued in writing. In the interview later, she admitted to regretting to not insisting on a written assurance.
The drama was not over yet. Ayesha was not in the wrong and had been tricked. Everyone could see it including people from the fraternity and journalists who pledged their support to her. She then lodged formal complaints with film artiste associations that are supposed to fight for the rights of the artistes and film employees. However, instead of protecting Ayesha, they turned a blind eye to her complaint.
Partho Ghosh - Director-Producer
When journalists grilled Partho Ghosh, he initially maintained that Ayesha was aware of how her character in the movie was being portrayed. But on further probing he admitted that the scene was shot without the actress’ knowledge. Ayesha even sent them a legal notice demanding that they delete the scene from the movie. But a desperate Prakash Mehra refused, saying that he had to ‘sell his film’. Thus his intention was clear – the scene was certainly not necessary but had been added to merely titillate. When Ayesha realised that Mehra wasn’t going to delete the offensive scene she demanded that he issue an open apology.
According to Ayesha’s friends, things weren’t going well in Prakash Mehra’s household either. Apparently, Mrs Mehra was openly rebuking her husband for using such tactics to promote the movie especially at his age (he was in his late 50s).
Ayesha finally got her apology letter but it was signed only by the director Partho Ghosh. When Mehra was asked about not signing the letter, he said, “I am not party to the entire controversy, only my director is.” To this Partho retorted, “But I have written it on his letterhead!” The issue thus became a bone of contention between the director and producer who were speaking in unison before.
Ayesha did get a letter signed by Mehra but it was a contract for the movie backdated in 1992! Ayesha hadn’t signed an official contract while agreeing to do the film and the first clause of the contract stated that the actress would work under all the conditions laid down by the producer and the director and extend her full cooperation. Ayesha refused to sign this. The person who brought the letter informed her that if she refused to sign it, she wouldn’t be paid her remaining dues of Rs 100,000 (Dhs6000). “I curse Mehra and Partho from the core of my heart,” a miffed Ayesha said.
She then spewed venom against the director and producer who wronged her and then tried to cheat her out of her rightful dues. “I will not spare these cheats. They have behaved very badly. To sell their movie, they used a semi-nude woman in my place. Isn’t this also a form of flesh trade? Partho’s wife has had a number of miscarriages and God didn’t give Prakash Mehra a daughter just in case he does this kind of dalaaali with his daughter too. I know this sounds cruel but that’s the extent of how much I am hurting inside. So whatever else happens in future, I know at least these two will never see happiness again.”
The movie went on to become a hit though it was severely panned for its vulgar content and songs. Ayesha decided to put the incident behind her and signed other projects but she didn’t have a very long innings in the industry.
Ayesha Jhulka: Ayesha Jhulka is married to businessman Sameer Vashi. She owns a chain of spas in Mumbai and also has a clothing line. Though not frequently seen about, she makes appearances in films in supporting roles.
Prakash Mehra: Prakash Mehra passed away on May 17, 2009. Regarded as a pioneer of masala films, Mehra made movies like Zanjeer, Namak Halaal and Hera Pheri which turned Amitabh Bachchan into a super star. His last film as a producer was Bal Bramachari.
Partho Ghosh: Partho directed Ek Second... Jo Zindagi Badal De in 2010 starring Manisha Koirala and Jackie Shroff. He was last in the news in 2013 for his arrest at Mumbai airport for human trafficking.