The #MeToo Movement is gaining momentum in India with women from various fields coming out in the open about being sexually harassed by men, many of whom are celebrities. The latest in the long list of disturbing accounts is that of TV serial producer and filmmaker Vinta Nanda who, on October 8, wrote about being sexually violated by the actor of a popular ’90s show.
In a long post on Facebook, she talked about being violated by her best friend’s husband, who was the lead actor of the show, Tara, which she was writing and producing. She has written about the actor harassing the lead actress of the show, who was not interested in him. “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 but many of the guys would egg him on to be his worst. My lead female actor was being harassed by him. When she complained to us, we decided to let him go.
“We needed one last shot between them and soon after it had been taken we had planned to let him know that we didn’t want to work with him any longer.” She said he came to know about their plan and came drunk on the set. “When the moment came and the camera rolled, he felt up our female lead and very viciously. My lead actress slapped him. We asked him to leave the sets and told him that he was not going to be on the show any longer.”
The producer then recounts being invited to a party at his house, when his wife, who happened to be Vinta’s best friend was out of town. “As the evening flowed, my drinks were mixed and I began to feel strange. Then at around 2 am, I left his house. Nobody followed me or offered to drop me home, which was rather unusual… I started to walk home on the empty streets although the distance to my own house was long. 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 remember more liquor being poured into my mouth and 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.”
When her company was shut down, Vinta started writing and directing a series for another production house. “The man,” she says, found his way through the casting route and became one of the lead actors on the show. “While I was working on this new series, 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.”
She quit after that as she was completely shattered by then. “Almost 20 years later, I’m totally fine now, healed and reunited with my own self again,” she says and explains that the only reason she is telling this story now is because she doesn’t want any girl should ever fear holding the truth back.
She ends it saying, “Irony is that the man, the predator in question here is the actor par excellence who is known as the most #Sanskaari (Cultured) person in the film and television industry.”
While she did not name the person in the post, she later reportedly told a news agency, “It is Alok Nath. I thought saying ‘sanskaari’ would do the needful.”
On being contacted, Vinta said, “I wrote on FB because I wanted a load off my chest. But my friends have rallied around me. I had earlier written in a magazine and spoken to a newspaper, but I guess there was never a #MeToo Movement then.”
When asked what does she expect out of this, she says, “It was never planned. It was something I wanted to say and I did. Firstly, I would like to protect myself, then let me think what needs to be done.”
We tried contacting Alok, but he did not revert till the time of going to press. But he said to a channel, “It’s horrifying and it’s her perspective. So, I give her a chance, whatever she felt, let her say under the #MeToo Movement… First of all, let’s not blame alcohol, secondly it’s her perspective. In any horrific incident, a single person is not involved. Either it’s a ghost or another human being. From my point of view, it is something which is a fragment of a certain imagination from a person for whom I did a lot of things in life… When I have a clarity of mind and perspective, I will speak about it. But it’s too early to give a justification of the whole scenario.”
He further talks about supporting the #MeToo Movement and says will help Vinta if she’s a troubled soul. He adds that she is being misled.
CINTAA contemplates action against Alok Nath
The Cine & TV Artistes Association has taken note of Vinta’s account and are contemplating taking action against Alok Nath. Sushant Singh, General Secretary, CINTAA, has urged Vinta to file a complaint against Alok. He has suggested sending Alok a show cause notice, but a decision will be taken by the Executive Committee of CINTAA, which is looking into the case. “We expect Vinta to approach us and the cops. We will extend our full support if she decides to take legal action against him,” he says.
While appreciating the stance taken by Sushant, Amit Behl, senior joint secretary, CINTAA, says, “It speaks volumes about his and our commitment to a healthy working environment. We at CINTAA need to follow certain procedures and we are looking into the possibility of whether we can initiate an action in such cases where there is no formal complaint.”
In her statement to a news channel, Navneet Nishan, who played the protagonist in Tara said, “I support every woman and man who is standing up for herself/himself in the #MeToo Movement. I empathise with Vinta for the terrible pain she has gone through; it is unimaginable. I dealt with the four-year harassment by slapping the man in question and it is done and dusted. l suffered the loss of the show and was further shamed by the man through media and I endured that. I fought my battles there and then. I am immensely glad that the power trip and sexual dominance coming from this power is being called out. It is high time.”
IN ANOTHER DEVELOPMENT
Rajat Kapoor accused of sexual harassment by three women finds his film Kadakh dropped from the line-up of the upcoming MAMI Mumbai Film Festival. So does AIB’s Chintu Ka Birthday as founder Gursimran Khamba has been charged with sexual misconduct.
The Creative Director Of MAMI, Smriti Kiran, released a statement to a news agency saying, “We as an Academy (MAMI) strongly support the #MeToo Movement. In light of recent developments, we have decided to drop the following films from our line-up — AIB’s Chintu Ka Birthday and Rajat Kapoor’s Kadakh. We want to use this opportunity to open up the conversation, and find solutions to harassment and sexual misconduct in the workplace. Starting with this edition of the festival, we would like to unite the community to find positive and constructive ways to deal with it.”