Writer, director and producer Vinta Nanda on Monday alleged that actor Alok Nath raped her in her home nearly two decades ago after he was sacked from 1990s’ popular television show Tara for misbehaving with its lead actress.
“I have waited for this moment to come for 19 years,” Nanda wrote in a Facebook post. While she did not name Nath, she referred to him as “the actor par excellence who is known as the most Sanskaari [cultured] person in the film and television industry”. Nath is known for playing roles that uphold traditions.
The filmmaker later confirmed to IANS that she was speaking about Nath. “It is Alok Nath,” she told the news agency. “I thought saying ‘sanskaari’ would do the needful.”
Nanda said Nath was part of Tara, which she was producing and directing. She called Nath “an alcoholic, shameless and obnoxious”, who was forgiven for bad behaviour as he was the star of the decade. She claimed Nath was removed from the show after the lead actress declined his advances. However, he later got the channel authorities to change the storyline of the show and came back to join the series. However, the show was abruptly shut down soon after, along with all other shows that Nanda was producing for the channel, she claimed.
Nanda alleged that he raped her at her house later. She said subsequently she was hired to write and direct a series for Plus Channel but Nath became one of the lead actors on the show where he “created an environment” of threat. “The only reason I am telling this story now is because I do not want that any girl should ever fear holding the truth back,” she said.
Speaking to Scroll.in, Nanda said she will decide on her next steps in a couple of days. “I have spoken what I had to because this was a now or never moment for me,” she said. “I haven’t thought beyond it. Right now I’m completely overwhelmed with all the support coming to me from different quarters. It’ll take a day or two for me to figure out next steps.”
Navneet Nishan, who played the lead role in Tara, said she was herself harassed by the actor in question, reported PTI. “I empathise with Vinta for the terrible pain she has gone through; it is unimaginable,” said Nishan. “I dealt with the four-year harassment by slapping the man in question and it is done and dusted.” She did not name Nath.
Nishan alleged that the man used the media to “further shame” her. “I fought my battles there and then,” she said. “I am immensely glad that the power trip and sexual dominance coming from this power is being called out. It is high time.”
Actor Sushant Singh, who is the general secretary of the Cine and TV Artists Association, said a showcause notice will be issued to Nath asking him to explain why he should not be expelled. “Unfortunately, we have to follow the due process,” Singh said on Twitter. “I urge you to file a complaint against this vile creature, we extend you full support.”
I do not want to talk much about it: Alok Nath
Speaking to ABP News about the allegations, Nath questioned Nanda’s version of events. “It [rape] must have happened but someone else would have done it,” he said. “Well, I do not want to talk much about it as for the matter if it has come out, it will be stretched.”
He said it was useless to react to the allegations “as in today’s world whatever a woman says, only that will be considered”. “In such a situation, it would be wrong to say anything,” he added.
In a statement, the Producers Guild of India said it supports the movement to call out and report sexual harassment and abuse anywhere in the industry. “We believe that there is an urgent need to set up a robust process to ensure the highest standards of safety for employees and crew members at the workplace – whether in officers or on sets of production,” the guild added.
The producers’ organisation said it would set up an internal committee to lead this effort.
#MeToo in India
The allegations come at a time when several women, including journalists, have taken to social media to give detailed accounts of the sexual harassment and misconduct they faced. The campaign, being dubbed as the #MeToo movement in India, has taken the media fraternity by storm as several senior journalists, writers and media professionals have been accused of misconduct.
Director Vikas Bahl, former Hindustan Times political editor Prashant Jha, actor Rajat Kapoor, Kashmiri journalist Fahad Shah, minister MJ Akbar, stand-up comedian Utsav Chakraborty and author Chetan Bhagat are among those who have been accused of sexual misconduct in the past few days.
Some women also posted on Twitter about journalist Mayank Jain, a reporter at Business Standard, who formerly worked at Scroll.in and BloombergQuint. Jain has yet to respond to queries regarding these allegations.
In view of the statements of women who have made public their experiences of Mayank Jain’s misconduct, we at Scroll in the spirit of fair disclosure would like to state that Mayank Jain worked for Scroll from October 15, 2014 to October 30, 2016, and then from June 12, 2017 to December 31, 2017.
A woman employee informally and verbally brought to the attention of a member of the internal complaints committee (ICC) at Scroll an instance of sexually inappropriate online behaviour by Mayank Jain in 2017. The employee, however, did not want to pursue the matter through a formal written complaint, without which no formal inquiry can be initiated. Despite this, the ICC took serious note of the matter and served a written warning to Mayank Jain, reminding him of Scroll’s strict policies prohibiting sexual harassment.
We, at Scroll, commit to continuing to better understand women’s experiences at the workplace and evolve further processes that may be required to prevent, acknowledge and respond to work cultures that are not enabling for women.
This article includes only those accounts in which the women have chosen to name themselves and their alleged harassers or in cases which there have been multiple accusations against one person. Scroll.in reporters are continuing to report the story, including efforts to corroborate and cover the cases where the women have chosen to be anonymous.