Vinta Nanda, a veteran writer-producer of the avant-garde 1990s’ show “Tara” fame, has accused actor Alok Nath — known for his “sanskaari” on-screen image — of sexually violating her almost two decades ago.
“I have waited for this moment to come for 19 years,” Nanda wrote in a long, heart-wrenching Facebook post, referring to the “predator in question” as “the actor par excellence who is known as the most ‘sanskaari’ (cultured) person in the film and television industry”.
Her suggestive remarks like “sanskaari” and that the person concerned was the “lead actor” and a “television star of that decade” were good enough to make out that Nanda was indeed pointing the finger at Alok.
Later, confirming the same to IANS via SMS, Nanda said: “It is Alok Nath. I thought saying ‘sanskaari’ would do the needful.”
Alok is known for his roles as a stereotypical Indian father, personifying religious traditions and moral values in films and TV shows.
It is the escalating voices against sexual harassment across the world as part of the #MeToo wave that gave Nanda the courage to pen down the exeriences which had left her “shattered”.
“He was an alcoholic, shameless and obnoxious but he was also the television star of that decade, so not only was he forgiven for all his bad behaviour, many of the guys would also egg him on to be his worst,” Nanda wrote, adding that he even harassed the show’s lead actress who was not interested in him.
Sharing the “worst” that happened, Nanda recounted the incidents that followed after she left a party at Alok’s house at 2 a.m. She says her drinks were mixed.
“I started to walk home on the empty streets… Midway I was accosted by this man who was driving his own car and he asked me to sit in it and said he would drop me home. I trusted him and sat in his car.
“I have faint memory after that. I can remember more liquor being poured into my mouth and I remember being violated endlessly. When I woke up the next afternoon, I was in pain. I hadn’t just been raped, I was taken to my own house and had been brutalised.
“I couldn’t get up for my bed. I told some of my friends but everybody advised me to forget about it and move on.”
Later, she got a job to write and direct a series for Plus Channel, and again her paths crossed with Alok.
“The man found his way through the casting route and became one of the lead actors on the show. He created an environment in which I was made to feel threatened, so I asked the producers to release me from directing the series because I didn’t want to be around where he was.
“I continued to write the show.”
The “most difficult part” and the “main reason” why Nanda took so long to come out with the truth was because while she was working on this new series, she says, “he asked me to come to his house again and I went to allow him to violate me”.
“I needed the job and didn’t want to leave it as I needed the money. It was after this that I quit.”
Nanda has urged people “who have suffered at the hands of predators, to come out and say it aloud”.
“Don’t hold yourselves back. This is a moment for change, so your silence will only hold barriers to its evolution. Speak out. Shout out from the top of the roof.”
[First published on Outlook Web Magazine]