“This happened two years ago. I was new to the city (Mumbai). He sent me a d**k pic. I told Tanmay Bhat and Kunal Kamra about it. Kamra alerted others of Utsav’s behaviour. But AIB continued to give him work. I’m glad people are talking about it,” said Mahima Kukreja, an up and coming comic and writer who called out on Utsav Chakraborty for sending her pic of his genitalia without consent. Women are angry and they have had enough. The society, the disproportionate power structure and systemic failure has made these women take matters in their own hands.
The #MeToo campaign has helped women from all around the world in throwing light on sexual abuse. It has also helped women to support each other and gave a chance to talk about issues that usually are kept in dark. The recent allegations on glitzy Bollywood, academia and media circles slapped with sexual harassment accusations by women across the country is one of the striking stories of the #MeToo campaign. The latest to open up is a producer of the popular 90s show, Vinta Nanda. In an elaborated Facebook post she narrated the horrific details of the incident of allegedly being raped by Alok Nath. Alok Nath is known for his roles as a stereotypical Indian father, personifying religious traditions and moral values in films and TV shows.
The incident took place almost two decades ago. In the Facebook post she also accounted about the details, when the lead actress of her show was being harassed by Nath. Though in the Facebook post she did not mention the name of the accused but later she confirmed to IANS via SMS, the writer-producer said: “It is Alok Nath. I thought saying ‘sanskaari’ would do the needful.”
His wife was my best friend. We were in and out of each other’s homes, we belonged to the same group of friends, most…
In the post Vinta Nanda also accused Alok nath of forcibly pouring alcohol into her mouth. After her successful TV show, Tara, was shut down, Alok Nath invited her to a party, said Nanda.
“It was usual for our group of friends from theatre to meet regularly so there was nothing unusual about my going to the party,” Nanda’s 9 October Facebook post reads. “As the evening flowed, my drinks were mixed and I began to feel strange. Then at around 2am I left his (Alok Nath’s) house,” she added.
According to Nanda, Nath followed her in his car and offered to drop her 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,” she wrote.
“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,” she said, “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.”
According to her post this wasn’t the only time.
Not too long afterwards, she said, she found herself on the same set as Nath again when he joined a TV show Nanda was directing.
“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,” she said, “I needed the job and didn’t want to leave it since I needed the money. It was after this that I quit.”
What followed was a 10-year hiatus from the industry.
“I was completely shattered by then. It was a nervous breakdown I was going through, but I was trying to be brave,” she wrote, “I tried to pick up the threads of my life but channels and networks and sets and rehearsals started to freak me out.”
This gut wrenching tale of Nanda shakes one to the very core. Nanda said she came out with her story with the hope that other survivors will also speak out.
“What followed because of my silence was even worse. I became easy prey because the message had been put out that I was afraid and so I would not open my mouth,” she said.
“I had friends who rallied around me and helped me clean up and restart my life in 2009, which meant that I had lived my trauma for 10 long years. Social media also saved me,” she added.
“I shout out to each one of you who have suffered at the hands of predators to come out and say it aloud,” Nanda said, “Don’t hold yourselves back. This is a moment for change so your silence will only hold barriers to its evolution.”
The world is changing. There is no place for inequality anymore. A new era of feminism has been marked and we women can hope for better days ahead of us. Sexual harasser operate without fear because of community protection. It is high time people should start taking actions so that this kind of toxicity doesn’t thrive among us. Breaking the silence is the only way forward. We will not stop unless these sexual predators are completely eradicated from the society. As long as we have each others back we can fight through anything.