The #MeToo movement took India by storm in October last year. Many women in the entertainment industry spoke about their experiences, and among the several shocking names that came out was that of Alok Nath. Multiple women from Bollywood accused him of sexual harassment, misconduct and assault.
However, it was this writer-producer who took the first step, and at the peak of the #MeToo movement, her Facebook post revealed that the actor known for playing sanskaari roles had raped her two decades ago. Her social media post went viral. After this, Alok Nath filed a defamation suit against her. Further, based on her complaint, an FIR was filed against Alok Nath.
Alok Nath. Image from Twitter
Alok Nath. Image from Twitter
The Dindoshi Sessions Court on 5 January granted Alok Nath anticipatory bail. The court made several observations, some of which doubt the credibility of the writer-producer's version of events, but she remains unfazed. Excerpts:
What’s your impression of the court’s order? The decision seems to be in Alok Nath’s favour hinting that he has been framed...
We have very little role to play. We’d put a written submission countering all the points that were shaming me. We have replied to all that. And further, the anticipatory bail has been granted to him on several grounds. There are conditions that apply and I guess the use of words of the learned judge is something that sounded strange.
But the way in which the order is worded, it is pointing fingers at you by saying that Alok Nath may have been falsely accused.
It might be…but if you look from the judge’s point of view, this is not the verdict that he is passing. It wasn’t a trial. But it is being positioned as a victory for Alok Nath, whereas this is not even the beginning. #MeToo movement gave me the courage and confidence to come out and like me, so many others did. It was something revolutionary that happened and it will take time for genuine justice. There is no precedence to anything like this. How do I get evidence 20 years later?
When people say that I have come out with my story after 20 years for my own benefit, what benefit? I have to survive. There was no enabling environment, not even in my industry. Every time I got the opportunity I spoke up. Alok Nath is a serial offender, everyone knew his reputation but nobody was ready to bell the cat. Within the industry it didn’t take even two weeks for CINTAA (Cine & TV Artistes' Association) to come out with a very strong answer to my complaint because I was not the only one, there were several others. Everyone who has worked with him when he was at the peak of his career knew what he was about. I went to court, I complained because he filed a defamation suit against me.
When the court hearing was going on for his anticipatory bail, my lawyer clearly said that we don't want him to be arrested, we are aware that there is nothing more than this that we can do. Police found veracity in what I filed and that is why they recorded my statement and they filed an FIR. Police wanted him to come for investigation for the recording of his statement but he went absconding in the third week of November because he was scared that he will be arrested. He applied for an anticipatory bail. Finally he got anticipatory bail on the 5 January. Thereafter, I suppose his next step is that he should go for an investigation. My lawyer has no role to play in this except for the request of an intervention during the proceedings because we saw his application and it was shocking. The kind of things he said in the application, they are bizarre to say the least. That is why we insisted upon intervention and clarified point by point. We gave a 50 page reply to that application and requested the court to put it on record, which the court did, and then of course, anticipatory bail was inevitable which they have given to him.
The court even states that you remember the incident but you could not remember the incident date…
I don’t remember the date probably because I have internalised forgetting this incident so much more than internalised living with it. I have spent 20 years shutting it out of the mind. It was such a horrific incident and to survive and to live I had to shut it out and internalise the silence and internalise the darkness of it.
We need to understand what happens when you get raped. Everybody who is turning around and saying, ‘Oh it happened 20 years ago’. Do women forget if they were molested or touched inappropriately in their life and do they remember the date? How will I forget that I was raped? There is shame in even going and telling someone that you got raped. There is shame even in coming out and telling your best friend, who is his wife, that your husband raped you. It is so complex.
The court states that it could be the result of your "unrequited love" for him
That is what Alok Nath has said in his application, which the court is repeating which they shouldn’t have. It sounded funny. His wife and I were close friends, we were a gang of friends. But that unrequited love part was really hilarious. I don’t want to sound sexist but first of all he is not my type at all. In his application asking for anticipatory bail, Alok Nath has alleged that it is the result of unrequited love for him. All I can say to him is, "Dream on!" I had nothing to do with a man like him.
Are you disappointed with the order?
No, I am not. My team of lawyers are really amazing, they have prepared me for everything. They have not painted a picture for me, they were brutally honest with me at every step of the way. They have given me the right advice and have told me that this is what you are going to face. I am prepared, they are like an army around me. When the order came I wasn’t surprised but I admit that the wording was a little shocking. Lot of my lawyer friends told me that it could have been a one line judgment saying that anticipatory bail has been granted. It is surprising indeed that someone has gone into story-telling over a granting of anticipatory bail.
Will you go to the High Court or the Supreme Court?
We will do what is necessary. We have done what we have done with truth on our side.