MUMBAI/NEW DELHI -- At Hrithik Roshan's sprawling, 3,000-square feet house in Juhu, Mumbai, an entire wall in the living room is covered by a mirror. Hidden away in tiny lettering in a corner of the wall closest to the mirror are the words, "There are two sides to every story." You can spot it if you look closely. It is the writing on the wall that matters now as the latest volley of statements and accusations fly thick and fast in his supposed affair-gone-sour story with Kangana Ranaut.
The Rashomon-like narrative is not just about two Indian movie stars squabbling over a past affair. Both of them have indicated that they would rather just "move on". Hrithik has claimed he was never romantically involved with Kangana; she has in turn called him a "silly ex". What is truly bewildering is that neither of them are ready to actually let go — Kangana has spoken about her alleged affair with the Krrish star in numerous interviews at least two years after it was all supposedly over, and Hrithik has responded with legal notices and police complaints.
Apart from the obvious point of contention — that a woman claims a man dated her and he denies it — the whole controversy also throws the spotlight on certain incidents that border on something much sinister: cyber harassment and stalking.
According to Hrithik, he has had a strictly professional relationship with Kangana. They shot two films together — Kites in 2010 and Krrish 3 in 2013 — and never spent any time in private.
SIGN UP FOR THE DAILY BRIEF FROM HUFFPOST INDIA
Get our top news delivered to your inbox every morning, Monday to Friday. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more
How It Started: 'Queen' Incident
In January, 2014, Kangana sent Hrithik an email and a text message asking him why he hadn't thanked her for a "special birthday present" she had sent him. She had also sent a synopsis of a script she had written and wanted to direct some day, which he read around the same time and replied to both emails, saying he hadn't received a present but that he had read her script and was really proud of her.
"This is the only mail I have sent her in my life," Hrithik told HuffPost India. He said he encouraged Kangana, who grew up in Himachal Pradesh, to overcome her language barrier. "Throughout the time I have known her, she has been struggling with her language to learn how to speak in English. And I am coming from a place where I have had a handicap — a stutter — and I have been in a very empowered place to tell her things like 'it doesn't matter'. That is the one thing where maybe I have had a chat with her in my life. I gave her examples like (late) Yash Chopra who doesn't know English but he speaks with his heart."
"And I am coming from a place where I have had a handicap — a stutter — and I have been in a very empowered place to tell her things like 'it doesn't matter'."
In the 28 January, 2014, email, Hrithik told her he was proud of her evolution, calling her script a "storybook romance".
In response, Kangana offered to buy him an Apple device, according to emails exchanged between them. Hrithik stopped replying. All emails mentioned in this story have been viewed by this HuffPost India reporter who is in possession of copies of most of these written exchanges between the two.
Meanwhile, Hrithik said that Kangana sent him some texts that year. When he went to shoot Bang Bang in Shimla in February 2014, Kangana sent him suggestions of places he could visit near her hometown. He thanked her.
But it was on 24 May, 2014, at a party thrown by Bollywood film director Karan Johar, where Hrithik said an encounter with Kangana "stunned" him. Her film Queen had been released to tremendous critical and commercial acclaim in March that year, and he went up to congratulate her at the party.
"I told her I haven't seen the film but I will see the film and I will give you my feedback," he said. But the 27-year-old actress looked at him in confusion. "But you have seen my film," she told him.
"I told her I haven't seen the film but I will see the film and I will give you my feedback," he said. But the 27-year-old actress looked at him in confusion. "But you have seen my film," she told him. "No, I haven't, but I will, and I promise to watch it soon and give my honest feedback," he remembered replying to her.
"But you've seen my film," she insisted, he said. That was when she told him that she had received an email from him, detailing the scenes in Queen he enjoyed the most. He told her he hadn't sent her any email. She walked away, visibly upset, Hrithik recalled, and he followed, disturbed. She refused to speak to him after that, he said.
Kangana's legal team has a very different description of the night — according to her, she confronted Hrithik at the party after suspicions that he had hacked her email, and later believed that he hacked a second email address she had created in order to send himself emails.
Next morning, Hrithik said he woke up to a string of abusive messages from Kangana sent between 3 and 4am.
"I presumed that she had lost her phone and somebody had found it and was playing a prank," he said. What followed was even more baffling. Rangoli forwarded him an email he had supposedly sent to Kangana earlier that month. In that email, he refers to them as a "couple". Alarmed, the actor thought his email had been hacked. It was only after he alerted his office manager and IT assistant, did he notice that the mail Rangoli had forwarded came from a different ID than the one the actor used.
"I presumed that she had lost her phone and somebody had found it and was playing a prank." Hrithik Roshan
Imposter At Play?
Hrithik informed Rangoli that his email address was different, and warned her that someone could be posing as him in communication with Kangana. In fact Rangoli herself suggested that they go to the police together. She said Kangana was "stressed" because she had sent on that email id "pictures, videos, mails and messages" and has received "a lot of stuff" from him as well.
An hour later, in an email, Rangoli accused the actor of "psychologically raping" her sister.
"When I read words like this, I completely disconnected," he said, adding that he refused to engage after the accusations against him.
However, the next morning, Rangoli wrote back to him, saying that she didn't know what was going on, but that Kangana was upset. In an email, dated 26 May, 2014, she wrote Kangana had forwarded to her a mail, supposedly from the actor, to show that the two were indeed in a relationship.
Matters took a turn soon when Rangoli claimed that Kangana's email had been hacked, and all her emails from Hrithik were deleted. Interestingly, both Rangoli and Kangana appeared to be convinced that it was Hrithik who was writing to the actress. Rangoli asked him to delete all old videos and photos that the actress had shared with him over the email ID Hrithik claimed wasn't his. She said she believed he did not have any "bad intention" and that she wanted to "close the matter".
Hrithik stopped responding.
Five weeks later, in July, Hrithik said he was startled to receive a blank email from Kangana, with a subject line that said she missed him. He didn't respond, and continued to receive dozens of emails from her regularly, following which he said he started sending these emails to his "junk" mail folder.
"I just decided that this is very weird, I went through this very weird episode on one day, I don't want to into this and I started to junk them," he told HuffPost India. "All this time I am thinking, oh my god she is extending her relationship with the imposter on to me now."
"I was just irritated, confused, I showed these mails to all my friends and asked what should i do and they said just ignore."
"All this time I am thinking, oh my god she is extending her relationship with the imposter on to me now."Hrithik Roshan
He shared his concerns with his close friends, and even a top police officer in Mumbai, all of whom suggested that he should ignore it, he told HuffPost India.
"At times I thought I would call her and clear the matter once and for all but I could sense from her explicit mails and words that this was a mess and I just didn't want to get myself further involved in something that literally had nothing to do with me," he wrote to a friend in the film industry in May, 2016.
"Ninety percent of the mails were explicit in nature."
"There were times when my kids were travelling with Sussanne (his ex-wife) and [I] used to keep my alerts on at night only to receive such mails from her that used to mess up my mind in the middle of the night," he wrote. "I used to bang my phone down in anger," he said.
"There were times when my kids were travelling with Sussanne (his ex-wife) and [I] used to keep my alerts on at night only to receive such mails from her that used to mess up my mind in the middle of the night."
In some of the emails, which Hrithik said he only read much later, when he was submitting them to the police, she had detailed her day's plans, and sent photos of herself at pujas, unwinding at home, as well as some explicit images. All of these, Hrithik said, were unsolicited, and totalled to about 3,000 by the time he submitted them to police.
Kangana later told the police that her computer was hacked. According to her lawyer, Rizwan Siddiquee, Hrithik hacked into her account and sent himself these emails. Kangana had complained to Hrithik's father, filmmaker Rakesh Roshan about this incident. Siddiquee told HuffPost India that only a handful of these emails were actually sent by Kangana to Hrithik, and that she did not file a police complaint as the two actors were on cordial terms.
Many of the photos sent in these emails to Hrithik, Siddiquee claimed, were actually older photos of Kangana that she had sent earlier to the "imposter" email ID. He alleged that Hrithik had downloaded these emails and sent them to himself from Kangana's email, to establish a one-sided love affair.
Her 'Mystery Man'
After a news report in December 2014 claimed Hrithik was Kangana's "mystery man", he decided to lodge a complaint against this imposter who seemed to be communicating with her using his name. It was on the same day that he stopped getting emails from Kangana, he said.
According to Hrithik, there were several times in 2015 when someone in the film fraternity would refer to his supposed relationship with Kangana, which he would deny. "It began really bothering me," he wrote to his friend.
Hrithik said he explored all his legal options, but he was advised that the laws of the country would not work to his advantage. What he was undergoing, he said, was cyberstalking — there was no other way to describe it. And cyberstalking holds a much lower risk of punishment than any law that protects women from harassment.
Early the following year, in January 2016, Kangana referred to Hrithik as a "silly ex", which was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. The actor sent a legal notice to the actress.
It needs to be said here that this alleged love affair was all happening over mail.
At the time, the actor was convinced that the complaint to the cyber cell in 2014 would help bring out the facts of the case. It was around then that he retrieved from his junk folder emails from Kangana, he said.
"I realised I couldn't do both — maintain clean hands AND wish for the mess to be cleaned on its own. I had to get my hands dirty," he wrote to his friend. "I remember a time in school when crow shit fell on my head, every kid stayed away from me even tho [sic] I had nothing to do with the crow or its shit."
However, the police could not trace the "imposter" in Hrithik's complaint – the US justice department which was trying to trace the account found that it either "never existed" or had been automatically deleted because it hadn't been in use for several months, reported The Times of India in November last year.
Kangana did not submit her electronic devices for investigations into her hacking claims. "She claims that she was receiving emails from an ID which she told us that is not ours. We offered to get to the bottom of the fake identity. The police have told us this ID is registered in New Jersey. She has neither cooperated in getting that ID and we don't know how many emails she got. Nor has she given any of the receiving instrument," Hrithik's lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani told HuffPost India in a telephone interview.
In April this year, Hrithik submitted his emails and devices to the police for forensic analysis. Given the nature of delays in forensic examinations in India, he also submitted a report from a private forensic firm where he himself got his devices tested. The report says that none of his devices were used to access the internet domain for the alleged "imposter" ID, nor did he have any intimate photos or videos of Kangana in his hard drive, even among his "deleted files". The emails with Kangana's photos were mostly sent directly from her iPhone 5s, according to the private forensic report.
The cops still have his laptop.
"I'm a bystander in this entire episode. This shit has just fallen on my lap," he said to HuffPost India.
"Testifying for my character, for something I have not done — it looks half guilty."
Despite repeated requests, Kangana declined comment on the matter. Rangoli did not respond to text messages requesting her comment.
Also On HuffPost: