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Sanskaar, rape, revenge and Alok Nath

Nairita Mukherjee
Nairita MukherjeeOct 09, 2018 | 16:52

Sanskaar, rape, revenge and Alok Nath

Picture a film set — actors in costume rehearsing their lines one final time as make-up dadas brush their faces with a powder puff, the cameraman taking his position, checking the frame and the light, as everyone waits for instructions from the one on the director’s chair, the all-powerful voice on a film set who has the authority to set everything in motion with a loud “Action!”

Twenty years ago, a veteran producer-director (name withheld) of a hit TV show held that chair. But, did she really have the power? No. Perhaps because she is a woman.

In a Facebook post that took social media by storm, the producer-director has narrated her story of sexual assault, oppression and harassment, followed by a phase of depression and self-loathing she suffered as a result, spanning over a period of 20 years. The accused, whom she refrains from naming, brutalised her, twice over, but was left scot-free. The accuser, on the other hand, lost her show, her credibility, her sanity.

It didn’t take social media too long to figure out that the ‘sanskaari’ actor in question was Alok Nath, known for his 'Babuji' roles in Sooraj Barjatya's Rajshri Productions. And soon, the likes of Swara Bhaskar, Mallika Dua and Richa Chadha, among others, came out in support.

Back then though, the ‘avante garde and ballsy’ lady, as Mini Mathur described her, stood no chance, even though she had the reigns of the show in her hands. And she realised that only after she decided to stand up for another woman, the female lead of the show, who had accused her co-star Alok Nath of sexual harassment. She had also sued Alok Nath for Rs 1 crore for calling her a drug user.

Things went terribly wrong when Alok got a whiff of their plans of ousting him from the show on the basis of complaints, and he landed up on the sets drunk. He reportedly misbehaved with the female lead and was immediately asked to leave under the veteran director’s strict orders.

What followed can very well be a case study of how some men, just by virtue of being a man, claim supremacy over a woman.

After all, how can a woman, whose place is in the kitchen, put you in place? How can a woman chastise you? It’s humiliating to take orders from a woman! She must be taught a lesson.

Alok not only made his way back into the show, thanks to his close contacts with the who’s who of the channel that ran the show, but he also apparently took it upon himself to make life a living hell for the director. To think of the strings he must have pulled, the amount of planning and effort that went into chalking a path to teach her a lesson, to avenge a dent on Alok’s inflated ego, appalls me.

tara_thumb_100918042130.jpgA still from the show. (Photo: India Today)

As per the social media post, Alok invited the director over to a house party, under the pretext of setting things right, apparently spiked her drinks and when she sensed something wrong and started towards her home, he accosted her midway, only so he could take her to her house — and reportedly rape her.

If the account of that brutal night doesn’t make you cringe, I don’t know what will. 

And all this because this director took a stand against sexual harassment two decades ago. Because she stood up for a fellow woman who needed her support. Because she had the balls to fight the-then-and-still male-dominated entertainment industry and its arbitrary, unspoken laws. 

Twenty years later, following the explosive Facebook post, the Cine and TV Artists Association (CINTAA) has decided to send Alok Nath a show-cause notice. CINTAA General Secretary Sushant Singh even urged the veteran director to file an official police complaint, which would enable CINTAA to take stronger action, and faster.

Amidst all, Alok Nath’s response to the allegations and the Twitter outrage would make you want to bang your head against a wall.

“At one time she used to be such a good friend… today she said such a big thing. In a way, it was me who made her what she is,” Alok told ABP.

Is it just me who spotted misogyny and a warped sense of entitlement in his statement? What was missing, however, was an ounce of remorse. Instead, he chose to borrow from a Rajesh Khanna song of yore, “Kuchh toh log kehenge.”

So much for any sanskaar. 

 

Last updated: October 12, 2018 | 12:46
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