Remember the lassie, Shweta Basu Prasad who got embroiled in the sex scandal lately? Yes, the same girl who won accolades for her impeccable performances as a child artists and also took away a National Award, the very same Shweta Basu Prasad. Shweta has been out of her confinement and is now serving the sentence for media’s irresponsible portrayal of the entire scam by calling her a prostitute. In a recent interview the actress chose to retrospect the whole matter and this is what she said to a leading daily.
What were your reactions after you got back home?
I came home on Friday (October 31). I’ve no complaints against anyone except the journalist who during my hour of crisis made up a statement attributed to me. That statement was circulated everywhere. I had no idea about it as I had no access to newspapers or websites for two months. It’s only now that I came to know of this.
So you say, you had no clue about such a statement being passed around?
No, I never made that statement. I was in custody. I wasn’t allowed to speak to my mother and father, then how would I speak to the media? Whoever made up that statement damaged my reputation by saying that all doors were closed on me—no such thing has happened and the film industry has always been very warm and welcoming to me—and that “people encouraged me to get into prostitution to earn money.” These are outrageous lies that I never uttered. We’re in the process of tracking down the journalist and the newspaper where these fake statements originated. We are taking very strong legal action against them. I need to set this falsification right before I move on.
Why do you think someone made that up?
We as a nation enjoy watching suffering. We are sadistic people. I want to ask the journalist who made up this statement: how much do you know about me and my family? I’ve friends in the film industry. I am well-connected. I’ve been auditioning for roles even when this (the arrest) happened. I’ve spent three-and-half-years of my life making a documentary on Hindustani classical music. I turned down roles after my first Tamil film as a leading lady was a hit because I wanted to focus on my documentary. Now that it’s in post-production I want to concentrate on my acting. So I want to know which doors were being closed? Such shallow emotions and vocabulary! Any sane person would have seen it’s made up. I can’t understand how it was used everywhere as my statement.
Were you or were you not called to Hyderabad for commercial sex?
I hadn’t been called to Hyderabad by any agent for commercial sex. I had gone to there to attend an awards ceremony. Call it fate or whatever; I missed my flight back in the morning. My air ticket and stay were done by the organizers of the awards function. I still have the ticket. I’ve been told that the agent has been arrested. The case is being investigated. I am a victim in the whole situation. There was a raid… I am not denying the incident. But the facts are not what they’ve been made out to be.”
So you do not know which other actress was arrested in this scandal?
No, but when I was detained for interrogation the police asked me the names of Tollywood actresses (allegedly involved in prostitution rackets). I didn’t even know many of their names. Why should I make comments on other actresses? Shame on the people who said I was forced to do certain things by my family to afford a lifestyle.
How did you spend your time in the custody?
It is a hostel for kids who are victims of human trafficking, etc. I volunteered as a teacher there and taught the kids Hindi, English and Hindustani classical music. I used my two months in there very productively.
Were you ever upset or depressed about the whole incident?
I was not depressed at all. Why should I be? I knew the truth. While I was in there I realized how lucky I was to have a family to support me. My parents have always wanted me to pursue a dignified career. After I did Iqbal, my parents made me pursue my studies. I make documentaries. I attend film festivals. I don’t have time to sit at cafes taking selfies. I’ve dedicated my life to cinema and acting. I am not going to let one incident spoil my life.
Soon you’d have filmmakers queuing up to sign you as their leading lady…
I don’t want a role out of sympathy. I don’t want people to think I am cashing in on the controversy.
You have emerged stronger….
I don’t think I’ve the luxury of being weak. Being strong is my only option. I’ve the truth on my side. And I’ve my parents and a lot of supportive friends.
Going forward, what are your plans?
I came across largely unscathed. I am at home and back at work. I don’t wish to go too deep into what happened, as it is a legal matter. But I am completely unaffected by the entire episode. I now see how futile and unnecessary it was. I am glad to be alive and kicking and raring to go. Life looks beautiful and hopeful.
Right now, I have just returned to the post-production of my documentary on Hindustani classical music. Life has moved forward from exactly from where I left off.