It comes as a shock to know that the young softspoken Kashmiri actor Zain Khan Durrani who recently made a very strong impact in his debut role as a suave poetic radio jockey in Onir’s Kuch Bheege Alfaaz has been accused of domestic violence, not once but repeatedly.
Onir who mentored groomed and introduced Zain is in a state of shock.
He explains why violence in the privacy of a home is everybody’s business. “We can’t say, ‘Oh it’s their business.’ Because he(Zain) is so cultured and softspoken in his public conduct.At least I got completely taken in by his gentle demeanour. But then I read Saloni Chopra’s account of her experience.”
Onir says he ignored the girl’s admission of abuse on social media , until a second girl came forward to accuse Zain of physical abuse.
“I met the first girl whom Zain is supposed to have accused. Now there’s a second.Apparently there are several women he has violated. He becomes a different person after 11 pm. If I had known about his history of violence I’d have never mentored him or introduced him to the screen,” says Onir, hurt and betrayed by his protégé’s secret life of violence .
“When we say it(domestic violence) is not our business we’re actually encouraging the perpetrator to continue with his behaviour. Zain gave no indication of this dark terrifying side to his personality. Now that I know about it, I can’t turn away from the hideous reality.No one should. If you are working with someone with a history of violence you must make sure he is distanced from you, and punished ,” says Onir.
The filmmaker had a whiff of Zain’s dark side right after the release of Kuch Bheege Alfaaz. “The day after the film released Zain stopped taking my calls. He broke all communication. This would’ve been permissible , except for the fact that he is under contract with me and cannot sign any film or any other contract without my knowledge. Not only has Zain severed contact with me he has also signed a film with a prestigious production house and started a radio show based on the character he played in my film, without my knowledge.”
Zain has been signed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra for a film. But in the light of the allegation of domestic violence this semi-newcomer from Kashmir may find himself isolated from the film industry.
Onir says the culture shock became too much for the Kashmiri actor to handle. “From a conservative upbringing in Kashmir he was suddenly thrown into the sociallyactive drinking and womanizing life in Bollywood. I don’t think Zain Khan Durrani could handle it.”
I asked Zain for his side of the story. But he chose to keep mum.