It was way past midnight when someone shared Adhyayan Suman’s interview with me on Twitter. I was sleepy. But after reading it, I was almost in tears. The interview was long, very long. But not longer than the life stories I have heard and read, shared with me by men who are in abusive relationships. A lot of people have found Adhyayan’s story scary and disturbing. I did not! Because I talk to men and their families with much more painful stories almost every day! Even then I thought it was very brave of him to share his heart out. There was no reason for me to disbelieve his story. Because I did not see him as this rich, spoilt, unsuccessful man who hasn’t made anything of his life. I saw him as a human being who got into a relationship where he was made to feel like no one while being subjected to abuse. Every line shared by him, every experience shared by him correlated with endless stories I have heard where a man is at the receiving end in a relationship. Similar equations, similar patterns, similar behaviours, similar apologies, similar hopes, similar dependencies, similar defiance and almost everything similar! It was not just a case of “Oh I was physically and mentally assaulted in a relationship” statement but a moment by moment , episode by episode account of what had happened.
I still remember when I was first slapped in my life. I still remember the place, the time, the person and how I felt. No one forgets it. Whether it’s a woman or a man – it’s painful.
Unfortunately, we as a society do not think it to be if the one being abused is a man!
We ask him to chin up and stop being a cry baby. We remind him he is unsuccessful so he doesn’t have any right to speak. His sharing makes for a sick read even if we claim to be a feminist – one who believes in equality of all! We shame his parents for bringing up a son like that and ask his father to buy him a brain surgery next. We tell him he is no one and will never be anyone because – because he has committed the gravest crime of saying he was abused by a woman! (All these statements have been made by journalists and feminists for Adhyayan)
No one questions if a woman speaks about her abuse after years. If not supported, she is at least not ridiculed. But Adhyayan has been. By the very same people who talk very passionately about gender abuse. He has been questioned for speaking up so late, abused for blaming a successful woman, criticized for his failures and accused of being a publicity seeker.
Here’s my interview with him where he answers some of my own queries and some of those who have written him off……
Question: It’s neither easy nor common for a man to share about abuse he faces within a relationship. You did that and that too after very long. How have people reacted to it?
Answer: Some people have supported me and I am thankful to them. But largely it’s been extremely insensitive to say the least. I am appalled actually. I could not imagine the topics people would choose to discuss from my interview. I mean people are discussing whether menstrual blood is pure or impure while talking about my interview having no regards to what I went through as a human being in that relationship! They forgot everything I said, put my emotions in the dustbin and what they found more apt was to discuss purity of menstrual blood.
The only thing people are questioning is – why after seven years? There are so many things that come out after years. There are so many autobiographies that come out after years. There are so many episodes in your life which you keep within you for years. There are moments in your life when you feel you are ready to talk about things. I felt it now. If not now, I would have eventually spoken about this because I would not have been able to keep this within. One thing that I have understood over years is that in our country, it’s not good to be silent. One has to get up and fight. It’s not about rights or men or women or feminist or sexist or whatever that has been discussed post my interview – it was just about taking out something that was there inside me, I wanted to talk about and move on. I always felt discomforted with people believing only one side while there was something absolutely different that happened in reality.
This baggage was extremely heavy and I had to get rid of it. It used to kill me. It was there subconsciously for a very long time. It used to sometime or the other, some conversation or the other pop up and I wanted to put an end to it. And it’s not about failure or success at all.
The way some people have reacted to my sharing just because in their eyes I am a failure is insane. They have cherry-picked things from the interview and twisted them to their own convenience.
I never said Kangana used to mix blood in my food. But they have attributed that to me and discussing it endlessly.
In an Industry like Bollywood, where there is so much pressure on you to succeed, if things are not falling in place, you tend to take advice and there are people giving you tips and gyaan on what to be done. So this episode was just one of those where my mother had called that Pandit jee and he asked me if she cooked food for me and I said yes and then he looked into my eyes and spoke something about Vashikaran while making that statement. I did not believe him and in fact when he left I was really angry on him and thought it was crap. I fought with my parents on why he was talking like that and blamed them for perhaps making him say all those things because they did not want me to be with her. In fact I used to always defend her saying she can never be wrong, she cooks for me. I was so much into that relationship that if anyone said anything bad about her…any producer, any friend or family….I used to disbelieve them and sometimes even abuse them for saying anything wrong about her. But then when you look back and ponder over things, you realize you were not that kind of person, you were not so defiant. How the hell did it happen? And then you wonder if you were in some kind of a spell. We live in a modern society but there are still so many things that happen in the world. I just stated what happened and what was said to me whether I believed in it or not. But your mind certainly thinks about things. After Jashn I had 10 films lined up and they were big banners. None of them worked out. I did not speak about them in the papers because there was no point. And they had not happened. Things were supposed to take off but they did not. I did not say they did not happen because of her. I said that things did not happen. Maybe it was my stupidity. Maybe it was the decisions that I took.
When I started people wrote about me and other actors as the next generation super stars and then today people are writing that I am ‘Inconsequential’ just because I chose to share my story. It’s hard. But truth had to be told. Every line, every coma, every full stop that I said in that interview is the truth otherwise I wouldn’t have the time and the audacity to speak up when it’s already very tough. No matter how strong you are it doesn’t feel good to read certain things about you and then you decide you have to speak up. I had to get things out of my heart and I did that.
What I have realized is that the world will always have two opinions. If I say it – they will say I have done it for publicity. If I don’t say anything they will say he is Inconsequential or not man enough. So you can’t control what people say. You just have to present your truth out there and let people decide.
Question: Kangana is a big star today while you have not done well in your career. I am sure you would have realized people would take this as a publicity stunt at the expense of success of a star. Still you went ahead and spoke about it. Why?
Answer: I did think about it. My father left the decision on me and said it’s a very sensitive issue and I should think about it. But then I have said it in the paper also – It was not about Hrithik or Kangana. It was not about anyone else. I was about me. I spoke because I saw someone else going through the same thing in exactly the same pattern. And I had heard so many things from so many people in exactly the same pattern. What happened to me was much worse but I felt a strong sense that people need to know about this. I felt really bad for Hrithik, not as a Man but just as a human being. I am not supporting him or taking his side but I felt it was important for me to just share my story of what I went through.
If I would have done this in 2010, first no one would have believed me then also and then I was not even in a space to talk about it. I had not even spoken to my parents properly about what I went through. I did not want them to know. And then I realized that when you are down and out, people make you feel like shit and walk over you and call you inconsequential and what not! The woman who we are talking about comes from the same space. People who are supporting her now are the same people who were talking shit about her back then. About the way she spoke, the way she dressed, about her character, about the psycho roles she played in the films – it’s the same people. Today she is successful so they are all gung-ho about her – I understand that.
From my side she can go and do Queen Elizabeth and win five Oscars, it makes no difference to me but nothing takes away what she did to me, the way she treated me as a person.
In my country everyone has right to speak, right to express. Just because I have a certain background doesn’t mean I cannot have a story, I cannot be abused. I am a human being and I wanted to share what I went through because it was not normal. It was not just a break up and little bit of physical violence, it was insane! It’s tough for a guy to anyways speak about abuse and violence but it’s tougher when you are an unsuccessful man – It’s very, very very tough! But then I thought I have to get rid of this baggage. I also have the right to share what I went through. I also need to have my closure and move on and not feel I did not express. Otherwise it would have hampered me until I spoke about it. It would have bothered me forever. More so because what people are made to believe is not what the truth is. Just because she has three National Awards so people want to believe her and I don’t have any award so I should be disbelieved – that’s strange! Would they believe me if I had won two national awards? No! I find it so artificial.
People are saying I have done this for publicity when I have disappeared from any sort of media for years because I had nothing to talk about and I did not want to be in the news for no reason! I don’t want to cook food and be in the papers. I don’t want to attend award functions to be in the papers. I got so many calls to attend these functions all these years. I did not. I had plenty of opportunities to be in the media or talk about her. There was an article in 2011 stating I broke up with her, I used her blah blah. I was like – what the hell. I could have spoken up then also but I chose not to. I did it this time because for no mistake of mine, my name was being dragged where I was presented as the loser boyfriend of hers who used her and then people called me and said dude this is never going to end because no one knew my side of the story. People only knew her side of the story. And my side of the story was tough. It was humongous. I had to say that and I said it. It’s as simple as that!
Question: What you have shared in your interview is not one but several instances of physical and verbal abuse with details of each. A lot of people want to know why did you not press charges or complain to the cops.
Answer: Press charges? When I had already given so much of pain to my family during that time whether it was she abusing my father or me becoming completely defiant, if I had pressed any charges, I would have further dragged my family to police stations and cops and got them deeper into the mess. I would have killed myself instead. With so much pain I had already given them, I just did not want to. Moreover, I did not have a face. When so many people told them what was happening was not right, when so many people called me to get out but I became defiant and did not hear anyone, I did not have a face to tell them that I want to take any action. I did not know what to do.
For a very long time I hid the fact that she has been physically violent because if I had told then my mum would have perhaps lost it. So I had to hide that. But eventually I had to come out and share it because the agony, the torture and the frustration was too much to bear. And then if someone has faced something why should one not talk about it? I did not want to file a complaint because I did not want my family to suffer even more and they would have had I spoken then. I know even now my family will get involved into this but at that time I just did not want that. I decided to speak because there are certain closures even my family wants. We are also human beings. My father has never been into any sort of controversy ever. He has not! He has been extremely successful and all on his own. If people can’t recognize that especially some inconsequential journalist who asks who he is, I feel sad! I really feel sad. I did not want to go to the cops because I did not want to raise some placards and cry for Justice. Neither it’s easy nor did I want to. I just wanted to express and vent out what I went through emotionally and I hope more people do that.
Question: I have followed quite a lot of sarcasm and brickbats you have received online particularly by women who claim to be Feminists and hence by definition of feminism in books, stand for Equality. I find it amusing that the same people who give several reasons for why women stay for long in abusive relationships have condescendingly said “why didn’t he walk out if he was abused?” . What do you have to say to them?
Answer: Oh yes. A lot of Feminists have questioned – Oh she used to beat you, why did you not leave her? I just want to tell them that I come from a space especially when I am more like my mum – where we listen to problems and try and solve them. If someone has some difficulties as a person or in their life, I feel I should be able to help them. I come from a very true space of love. I don’t believe in infidelity, I don’t believe in cheating and I am being honest that I really don’t. Obviously when I met her, there were a lot of things told to me about how she was from a small town, how she came out of an affair with a married person where she was beaten up – all those things – they melted my heart and made me fall deeper in love with her. That’s also a reason I wanted to be with her so that the past can be forgotten and a new journey can begin from there. Sometimes in life, you keep waiting for a positive moment from the other side to happen. You go through a negative emotion with your partner and you tell yourself – its okay things will be fine. Then it happens several times and you try and understand what’s happening. When you are in a relationship which is emotionally manipulative, you go so deep inside of it that you keep abusing people and anyone who warns you about it that they are wrong everybody is wrong and keep thinking that the other person will change, something good will come out. But by the time you come out, you realize nothing positive is going to happen , nothing good is going to happen and you feel you are screwed . It’s just too late. You feel shattered completely. Today I feel blessed that I just snapped out of it. I just snapped out of it when I heard her abusing my father. I felt shattered. I made sure I never ever crossed paths with her. Never in my life ever again!
The day I broke up I deleted every memory I had of her, everything that could remind me of her. Today I feel I was stupid. I should have kept those abusive messages. When I broke up then also she sent me message “I will ruin you and your father Behen***d.” I wish I had saved that message because it has reverberated in my mind for the last seven years of my life. And I can never forget that.
Also, why no feminist asked Kangana that question ever. Why was she with a married man who she calls abusive for five long years? Why did she not leave him? What interest did she have for not leaving him? Can someone ask this to her? No. Because she’s successful today and no one can dare.
Question: People have written off your interview particularly because you spoke about black magic. It is hard for everyone to think that an educated person can do such things. What do you have to say? Do you have any evidence of it?
Answer: Well do you make videos of such things? When you have no clue as to what is happening and then someone you love is asking you to do something which is just so unbelievable – I was shit scared when that room thing happened. I was shivering. I was so confused if I should tell my parents or not. At that time, I lost out on my friends as well. I wasn’t meeting then. I did not know who to talk about this to. I did certain things she asked me to do and certain things I did not. I did not tell her I am not doing it because then that also used to piss her off!
Question: Do you think it’s easy for a man to speak about mental and physical violence in a relationship given the fact that no one believes if a man is violated by a woman?
Answer: I don’t know if it’s about men and women. I don’t know if it’s about Gender. It’s about psychology – knowing someone that deep and manipulating a person the way you want. When you don’t know what to do and you take the beating and violence, get slapped and have things thrown at you. Any sane person with a stronger heart and stronger mind can get out of it – it would be easy for them but then there are certain people who come from a protected background who just haven’t seen these kinds of people or that kind of behavior. And when you are put with such a person out there for the first time when you are barely 20, it completely boggles your mind. Seeing something like that in films and seeing it personally happening to you are two separate things altogether. It’s really tough.
When you are beaten up, you tell yourself what the heck are you doing here, get the fuck out of here but the next moment you are going up yourself saying “Sorry baby I love you” and you are apologizing because the other person makes you believe it’s your mistake. It’s nothing but kind of mind games that a person can play with you. And only those people who have been through something like this can understand this. People who are far away and probably haven’t dealt with something like this will make fun of you and make you feel like shit and say you are too weak. I hope that men out there come out and start talking about the pressures they face in a relationship and abuse they go through. When people can hear the good things in our life, why can’t they hear the bad part of it too? Why can’t they believe the bad part of it as well?
Question: Many people have sympathized with Kangana for being called names. Some of these very people and many others have called you names – Loser, Unmanly, Faggot, Liar, Good for Nothing, Just an EX and much more while hurling abuses at you. What would your message be for them?
Answer: I just have one message – According to me what I did was most manly thing ever. When I was in relationship also and when I was out of the relationship as well!
It would have taken me nothing to reciprocate the abuse and violence I was subjected to. But my father told me one thing very clearly in my life that never ever hit a woman. Ever! I had told myself that I will not retaliate. I chose the right way. I hope more people can speak about the emotional trauma they go through. Men and Women are committing suicides. Because they are in these emotionally manipulative relationship and they just don’t know what to do, who to go to. They should talk about it because if you don’t do that, you suffer and it takes you nowhere.
Question: Do you think there is a bias in the minds of people when we talk about gender abuse and violence? Do you think they just don’t want to discuss this issue?
Answer: There’s definitely a bias in minds of people to accept a man as the one abused and a woman as the abuser. They are saying – he is a star kid, he is a man – nothing of this sort would have happened to him. It’s sick but then there’s no point talking about it …
An editor of a news channel has thanked me for telling him that “I am no one.” Some journalist has said I am doing this because I have a movie to release soon when there is no project of mine releasing for the next few months. There are many more people who have said things nastier than that. My career is the only benchmark from which I have been looked at even though what I shared was very personal. But I think it just doesn’t surprise me because they have become so heartless and insensitive that someone’s life is just a piece of news for them and they judge and comment because they also want to be a part of that trend. Now there are two options – either you leave knowing that there are people who support you and believe in you or you stand on your ground and fight. What I have decided is that I will fight this.
Question: Why do you think the backlash against you has been so strong, because you are a star kid or because you are a man or because the person you are standing up against is a very successful woman?
Answer: I think it’s because person who I am standing against is a very successful woman and also because I am a man. I don’t know how many men have come out like me. After my interview, there are so many men who have reached out to me to share their pain and I realize there’s so much happening around. Ironically these cases do not become talk of the town unlike cases where woman is the victim. We always hear about those cases only.
Its okay if people don’t want to believe me, please don’t. But why are they abusing me and my family for speaking up? There are things that have been said by people in her life before me, there are people who have complained about her abusive behavior to the cops before me, I am not the only one who has spoken then why are they targeting me? If they want they can investigate what I said. I said the truth but still if they do not wish to believe, it’s their choice. I stand by whatever I have said completely. I think this is exactly the reason why men do not talk about their sufferings. They are accusing me of having a PR machinery when there’s no one representing me.
Question: What will be your advice to men who are in abusive relationships?
Answer: They need to talk to their loved ones. They need to talk to their parents. They need to listen to them. And if your parents are telling you that something is not right, they are saying it out of experience. They are not saying it just out of love they are saying it because they have seen more life than you have. They have been in more relationships than you have and relationships are much more than just having sex. It can be any manipulative relationship with your family and they have a sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. When they tell you not to do something because you might lose out on crucial time in your life, don’t do it because they are talking out of experience. At least think about it – don’t be defiant like I was where I used to make them wrong for advising me because she was always right to me and one who needed me. Don’t do that because I have lost a lot. It took me a lot of time to come out of it. So all the young people, because we have lesser experience of life than our elders, please listen to them. Above all – speak up, share and talk. Don’t feel ashamed.
Question: Last but not the least , why do you think a successful person like Kangana would do all this? She is successful, stable and rising in her career. Why would someone dig their own grave?
Answer: When you have certain habits, that you just can’t get rid of, you tend to repeat them and sooner or later, you fall into your own grave that you dig for others.
Interview conducted by Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj over skype