Shooting “Har Pal” with Shiney Ahuja may not have been an experience worth cherishing for Preity Zinta. But the actress, who had apparently vowed to stay away from all things Shiney, has now decided to promote their film together.
Confirming this, Shiney says: “We’re looking at May or June for release because before that Preity is busy with the IPL (Indian Premier League).”
“As far as I’m concerned, there was never any problem with Preity. She’s a lovely person. When I was going through my legal stress, she had sent across a message of support. I’ve finished my dubbing for ‘Har Pal’ and so has she. We will now work towards releasing the film. It’s an important film for both of us, and for director Jahnu Barua,” he added.
Shiney’s got into trouble after his maid filed a complaint saying he raped her. The actor was arrested on June 15, 2009, after preliminary medical tests on the girl confirmed sexual assault. He was charged under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 376 with rape, along with wrongful restraint and intimidation.
However, in April last year, the Bombay High Court granted bail to Shiney Ahuja, who was earlier convicted of raping the maid.
Shiney refuses to accept that the makers of his stalled films were playing the wait-and-watch game.
“I don’t think my personal problems affect my work. People won’t watch ‘Ghost’ or ‘Har Pal’ because they feel sympathetic towards me. Neither will they stay away because they dislike me,” he said.
Remind him that leading ladies invariably had a problem working with him and Shiney said: “I was and I continue to be a professional on the sets. The problem, as you describe it, was never from my side. I got along with all my leading ladies from Chitrangada Singh to Sushmita Sen to Preity and Kangna Ranaut.
“In fact, Kangna has gone on record after my troubles to say she would gladly work with me again. So I don’t know who were the leading ladies who had a problem with me. I was always fully focused on that stretch of time between ‘action’ and ‘cut’. And I still am.”
Shiney has been given back his passport and he is free to travel anywhere he wishes. He divides his time between Mumbai and Delhi. He and his supremely supportive spouse Anupam are now closer together than ever before.
“My only concern during those dark days in prison was my wife and daughter’s safety. In fact, when all hell broke out I remember my first thought was, ‘Will this effect my child’s future?’ I’ve survived because of god and my wife. And she withstood the ordeal because of my parents and her parents. My parents and my in-laws live close to each other in Delhi. So the family circle never wavered in my absence.”
Shiney, 37, has truly put the stress of conviction and incarceration behind him for now.
“If you ask me, my life is back to normal for now. I went to innumerable cities to promote my latest film (’Ghost’). Nowhere was I asked about my legal crisis. It’s only now when you ask me about it that I’m reminded of the sword that hangs over my head.”
Shiney says the thought of returning to jail is inconceivable.
“The first time I didn’t know what lay in store for me. Now I do. It’s like your car rams into a truck. You spend months in hospital and then when you’ve recovered you’re told you’ve to get back into that car and get rammed by that truck again.”