Joined: 06 August 2014
A famous Bollywood dance choreographer is denying allegations of sexual abuse outlined in B.C. Supreme Court suits filed this week by two B.C. dancers.
Shiamak Davar, 53, is a renowned Indian choreographer and performer who has worked on the Commonwealth Games, dance sequences in Mission Impossible 4, is credited with introducing contemporary dance in India and has taught around the world.
Some of the famous names he has associated with include Bryan Adams, Sting, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise, Richard Gere, Will Smith and Stevie Wonder.
North Vancouver residents Jimmy Nowzer Mistry, 33, and Percy Shroff, 40, both filed civil claims Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court, seeking damages for years of what they're calling sexual grooming and unwanted sexual advances, while they performed and taught with Davar.
Mistry and Shroff were both teens when they met Davar through a dance school he operated in Mumbai, India, in the 1990s.
The suits say after the two were each singled out for special treatment by the choreographer, they then became members of a religious sect led by Davar.
In the civil suits the pair allege Davar abused his position of spiritual authority to victimize them and make unwanted sexual advances.
According to Mistry's suit, he was in his late teens when he first joined Davar's school, the Shiamak Davar Institute of Performing Arts.
After a year, the plaintiff was selected to be a core dancer for the school and began teaching classes as well, which led to more time spent closely with Davar.
The suit alleges Davar had a small group of seven or eight dancers, mostly boys, who were treated to special outings after rehearsals, and that they were subjected to praising and being touched in a "flirtatious way" by Davar.
Mistry's suit alleges Davar often invited male students over to his private home to watch movies in bed.
"He would lie on the bed in his underwear and take someone's hand, including the plaintiff's, and put it on his underwear over his penis ... ," reads the suit.
The plaintiff, who considered Davar to be his spiritual leader, believed the actions "must be correct and did not question the defendant's actions or motives."
In Shroff's suit, Shroff says he was selected as a core dancer and assisted Davar in teaching classes across Mumbai.
The suit alleges Davar became more affectionate with the plaintiff, first by hugging and kissing him, during these close interactions.
The plaintiff said Davar phoned him following one such class and told him, "I know your secret," referring to the plaintiff's sexual preference.
"The plaintiff was stunned. He was young and was not yet conscious of being gay," reads the suit. "The defendant said that he and the plaintiff were similar, That way' and that he would help the plaintiff. The plaintiff said nothing."
Following this, the suit claims Davar began to make bolder advances toward the plaintiff.
These advances included allegedly encouraging the young dancer to shower with him and in one instance, lie on top of the defendant and "grind his crotch into the defendant's."
Both of the plaintiffs, who were still devoted followers of Davar's sect, also later moved to a neighbourhood in North Vancouver that was believed to be safe from the "imminent apocalypse."
In Canada, both Mistry and Shroff allege they were still subjected to Davar's control over their personal relationships and lives.
Both Mistry and Shroff are now suing for various damages. The claims have not been proven in court.
Davar has since filed a written response to the claims with B.C. Supreme Court.
In a statement he released Thursday, Davar denied all claims.
"I am shocked by these allegations and deny them completely," he said. "I will not be intimidated into silence and will defend myself vigorously in court.
"I have total faith in the justice system of British Columbia that my name shall be cleared on all accounts."
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