Filmmaker Nagraj Manjule, who is currently a hot favorite in the Marathi film circuit after the phenomenal success of Sairat, has reportedly had a dark past that is catching up with him even as he scales the heights of professional glory.
While the director has asserted himself as a socially-sensitive filmmaker who is deeply pained by societal evils in several interviews, Manjule's ex-wife has horrific tales to tell of his conduct as a husband, as per various reports that were kick-started by one in the Marathi newspaper Lokmat, published roughly a fortnight ago.
In an interview with The Quint, Sunita Manjule described a marital life filled with strife, abuse, and most of all, neglect and abandonment. Manjule said she was married to the director when he was studying in the 12th standard and went to live with his family in Solapur.
Irony doesn't get darker than this. One of the most appealing factors about Sairat has been its strong lead female character (essayed by Rinku Rajguru), who rides a bike to the college, a tractor on the farm, and also takes complete charge of the relationship.
In a recent interview with The Hindu, Manjule had said:
Sunita further says that she was left to take care of her husband's 'large family' and would make sure she was the 'perfect wife.'
While she was busy taking care of the family, Nagraj went on to pursue his film career and enrolled himself in a film institute in Ahmednagar.
While she 'overlooked' her marital woes, Sunita's will power reached a breaking point when Nagraj's debut Marathi film, Fandry, won the National Award. While the whole family was headed to Delhi to be a part of the ceremony, Sunita alleges that she was locked up in the house.
"Not only did they go without me, they also locked me inside the house while they were leaving. I didn’t know what to do. I was at a loss for words. The husband I knew slowly vanished into the filmmaker. Whenever he would come, he would get his friends, sometimes male sometimes female, along. I would cook, serve and be the best host possible. But he would never even acknowledge my presence in front of his friends."
Sunita reveals that the couple filed for a divorce in 2012 and she was paid Rs 7 lakhs in a settlement.
Sunita now works as a maid in several households to support herself and her ailing parents.
She also said her big regret is not having any children, something she eagerly wanted to have with Nagraj. Whenever she raised the question of keeping the child, Nagraj would beat her up and make her abort.
"He made me go for 2-3 abortions, and whenever I raised my voice for keeping the child, he thrashed me, with his bare hands, leather belt and sometimes, a log of wood."
HuffPost India attempted to get in touch with Nagraj Manjule for a comment, but his phone was unavailable and, later, switched off. He also did not respond to text messages.
Read the full interview here.
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