After Bollywood writer and producer Vinta Nanda posted a harrowing account accusing veteran actor Alok Nath of sexual assault on Monday, two other women — actor Sandhya Mridul and a crew member of Hum Saath Saath Hain — have made allegations of sexual misconduct against Nath.
On Wednesday, Mridul tweeted her #MeToo account claiming that Nath sexually harassed her in a drunken state. She wrote, “At the very start of my career, I was shooting a telefilm in Kodaikanal. I was the lead. And very excited. Alok Nath was my on-screen father and Reema Lagoo my mother.” Mridul recalls she used to be a “huge fan” of the actor, however, her impression of him changed after the cast went out for dinner one night.
“At dinner, he got progressively drunk and started insisting I sit with him and that I belonged to him and other stuff that I don’t clearly remember but it made me very nervous and uncomfortable,” she wrote, adding that a co-star got her out of there and she went back to her room.
Later that night, Mridul heard a knock only to find an inebriated Nath standing at her doorstep. She stated, “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 .. I fell back toward the bathroom door he lunged at me again screaming I want you you’re mine .. I dodged again he went into the bathroom and I think I latched the loo door and ran out of my room down the corridor into the lobby.”
Mridul added that Nath’s advances continued that night and later during the shooting of the film as well. While Nath eventually apologised to her, she said he later told people that she was “difficult and arrogant”. She added, “It’s taken me years to lay those demons to rest and move on and just stay away from it all. But it never actually goes away. Does it?”
— Sandhya Mridul (@sandymridul) October 10, 2018
In an interview with Mid-Day, a crew member on the sets of the 1999 Sooraj Barjatya film Hum Saath Saath Hain, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “We were shooting for a night scene and I had taken a change of costumes to him. Once I handed him the clothes, he started stripping in front of me. I was taken aback, and tried to make my way out of the room as soon as possible. When I tried to run out, he grabbed my hand and manhandled me. I remember yanking my hand out of his grip and rushing out of the room.”
“I was shell-shocked; I couldn’t muster the courage to speak up against him. He was extremely close to the Barjatyas, and Sooraj sir would have taken it badly,” she said, adding that she decided to move away from the industry due to the incident.
Earlier on Monday, Nanda shared a Facebook post, claiming she was sexually assaulted by “the most sanskari (cultured) person in the film and television industry” while the two were working together for the TV show Tara. She later identified her assailant as Nath. Ever since the post went viral, several people have come out in support of Nanda.
Deven Bhojani, an actor on Tara, told Zoom TV, said that “when he (Nath) drinks, he gets crazy” and that Vinta is “courageous and as it’s not easy for a woman to confess such things.”
Nath’s co-star on Tara, Navneet Nishan, also supported Nanda, and told PTI, “I dealt with the four-year harassment by slapping the man in question and it is done and dusted.” She added, “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.”
Responding to Nanda’s allegations, Nath issued a statement saying, “Neither I am denying this nor do I agree with it. It (rape) must have happened, but someone else must 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.”