The title of actor Shiney Ahuja's upcoming movie, Welcome Back, may well be a message for him. The 40-year-old actor, who spent about three years in jail for raping his domestic help in 2009, will be seen in a Hindi film for the first time since 2012's Ghost , which sank without a trace when it released.
In an interview to Mumbai Mirror, Ahuja said "his family has moved on and has started a fresh chapter in their life". Last year, on the sets of Welcome Back, his co-star Anil Kapoor embraced him and said, "Welcome back, my boy," a gesture that left him in tears. "And that's when I knew I was making a comeback," he told Mirror.
The actor has been missing during the promotions of the film, which he insisted was because he was out of the country for two months with his family. Before that, he said that the camaraderie on the sets of the film, a part of which was filmed in Dubai, helped dispel his nervousness. "It was too hot and everyone was sharing the van. We were a boy gang, making jokes and pulling each other's legs. And I was very much a part of it," he told Mirror.
In the interview, he also claimed he is "flooded with film offers" and is awaiting the release of his long-delayed film with Preity Zinta, Har Pal. Directed by noted Assamese filmmaker Jahnu Barua, the film had been stalled for years because of his legal troubles and will reportedly release by the end of this year.
Once a model who appeared in a number of ad films, Ahuja gained recognition for his role in Sudhir Mishra's critically-acclaimed Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2005), a performance that won him the Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut the following year. He then went on to appear in a number of successful films, such as Gangster (2006), Life... In A Metro (2007), and Bhool Bhulaiyya (2007). However, all that changed after June 2009, when the married Ahuja allegedly forced his domestic help to have sex with him (he initially claimed it was consensual, but then reportedly confessed), completely tainting his reputation and derailed his career.
The details of what actually happened, however, are still murky. While the victim reportedly retracted her statement in 2010, Ahuja was nevertheless convicted by a trial court in March 2011 on the basis of circumstantial evidence. He received a sentence of seven years rigourous imprisonment, but received bail last year.