Writer-producer Vinta Nanda Tuesday accused actor Alok Nath of sexually assaulting her on multiple occasions 19 years ago when they worked together on the sets of the 1993 TV show Tara. Nanda detailed the account on Facebook Monday in which she referred to Nath as “the most sanskaari (cultured) person”, before naming him the next day.
Speaking to ABP News, Nath said: “Neither I am denying this nor do I would agree with it. It (rape) must have happened, but someone else would have done it. Well, I do not want to talk much about it as for the matter if it has come out, it will be stretched.”
Nath is the most recent among several names from entertainment, film and media to be accused of harassment by women on social media identifying with the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns. Earlier, Vikas Bahl, the director of the film Queen, former executive editor of The Times of India and ex-DNA editor-in-chief Gautam Adhikari and members of the comedy collective AIB, were among those accused of sexual harassment.
Following her allegations, the Cine and TV Artists Association (CINTAA) and the Producers Guild of India (PGI) offered support. While the CINTAA indicated they may issue Nath a show-cause notice, the PGI said they were committed to providing “safe workplaces”.
Actor Sushant Singh, general secretary of CINTAA, said: “We, at CINTAA, would like to begin by saying we believe every word that Vinta Nanda has said about Alok Nath. We are in the process of trying to work out the best course of action in this case, keeping in mind the guidelines of CINTAA. We don’t want to rush into it because if we make a legal mistake, it can backfire and set Alok Nath free of consequences.” “We want to make sure that our move sets a precedent that will be a deterrent for others. We understand that when we say ‘time is up’, time is up now. We will announce our decision on the matter soon.”
Nanda told The Indian Express that she is consulting lawyers. “However, everything is all very sudden. I want to take my time and decide the legal action I will take. Most likely, I will reach a decision tomorrow,” she said.
She alleged that Nath sexually assaulted her on more than one occasion after he was fired from the 1993 show for misbehaving with its lead actor, Navneet Nishan. Recounting her ordeal, Nanda said Nath’s wife was her best friend and that Nath, who played Deepak Seth in the soap opera, harassed Nishan and that “he would mess with her on the sets and everyone would be silent” as he was a big television star in the 90s. Speaking to Pinkvilla.com, Nishan said that she had ended years of harassment by Nath on the sets by slapping him. Nishan had also sued him for Rs 1 crore for calling her a “drug user” in an interview in 1994.
According to Nanda, she was encouraged by the #MeToo movement and decided to share her story as it was “a now or never” moment for her. She has not decided on her future course of action and is meeting advisers regarding that.
“The biggest burden of life was finally off my back. For the first time in many years, I slept like a baby last night,” she said adding, “I’m back to being what I used to be: fearless and spirited.”
In her post on Facebook, Nanda said, “I was producing and writing the No 1 show on TV called Tara. He was after my lead girl.” On the last day of his shoot for Tara, he drank till he was called for the shot, she said. According to Nanda, “when the camera rolled, he felt up our female lead and very viciously. My lead actress slapped him”. Sometime later, Nanda was invited to a party at Nath’s home. There, her “drinks were mixed” and she “began to feel strange”.
Nath, she said, offered to drop her home and she woke up the next afternoon in pain. “I hadn’t just been raped, I was taken to my own house and had been brutalised,” Nanda wrote adding that this was followed by years of trauma, depression as well as a brush with alcoholism and drugs. Nanda said she did not open up earlier as she “believed it was her fault” and was advised by people around her to “keep quiet”. Today, she believes, “Silence is more dangerous. I suffered because of that.”