Two days after writer, director and producer Vinta Nanda accused actor Alok Nath of rape, actor Sandhya Mridul on Wednesday also claimed he had sexually harassed her years ago. In a social media post, Mridul expressed solidarity with Nanda.
Mridul said she worked with Nath for a telefilm in Kodaikanal at the beginning of her career. One night after pack up, he had tried to enter her hotel room in an inebriated state, she claimed. “I instinctively tried to shut the door but he pushed it and lunged at me, I stepped aside he went flying past me into the room,” she wrote. Mridul said she fell on the floor and he tried to lunge at her again.
She claimed Nath traumatised her with calls every night after the incident. She said she forgave him during the shoot of the telefilm after he apologised to her.
“I had to forgive you for myself then and for my sanity but I will never forgive you for what you did with Vinta,” she said. “I stand by you Vinta. What I went through is nothing compared to you. I’m so sorry.”
She also expressed solidarity with actor Tanushree Dutta, who has accused actor Nana Patekar of sexually harassing her in 2008. “I’m happy now women can speak go on social media. So there’s that platform,” Mridul said. “I stand with Tanushree. And Vinta. And every woman. Who has been through this and will follow suit and break her silence.”
Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association President Ashok Pandit said the organisation has drafted a notice that will be issued to Alok Nath. “Vinta Nanda is also a very respectable member of the association,” he told reporters.
On Monday, Nanda had alleged that Nath raped her at her home nearly two decades ago after he was sacked from 1990s popular television show Tara for misbehaving with its lead actress. While she did not name Nath in her Facebook post, 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.
Speaking to ABP News about the allegations on Tuesday, 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.
Nath will file a case of defamation against Nanda in a day or two, ANI quoted his lawyer as saying on Wednesday. “We are going to take action against her for the unnecessary defamatory statements issued by her,” said advocate Ashok Saraogi.
“It was easy to come up with allegations of an incident that supposedly took place 19 years ago,” added Saraogi. “This shows the allegations are false. I believe this has been done to defame his [Nath’s] reputation.”
Saraogi said if required, they may file a suit for the recovery of amount for the damage caused to Nath’s reputation.
When asked why Nath was not responding to the allegations, the lawyer said everybody was “entitled to put up messages on WhatsApp and Facebook and get it circulated”. “But that is not required to be responded [to] immediately by the person concerned,” he said.
#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 called 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, and stand-up comedian Utsav Chakraborty 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, leading to his resignation from Business Standard. He has 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.