Actress Sandhya Mridul on Wednesday came out in support of writer-producer Vinta Nanda’s sexual harassment allegation against actor Alok Nath, sharing her own ordeal with him during the shoot of a telefilm in Kodaikanal.
Nanda, a veteran writer-producer of the avant-garde 1990s’ show Tara fame, accused actor Nath — known for his “sanskaari” (traditional) on-screen image — of sexually violating her almost two decades ago.
Mridul took to Twitter to share her own experience, which left her “disillusioned and unsure” in the industry.
“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 Alok Nath was very impressed with me and called me ‘God’s own child’ and openly praised me every day. I was over the moon. I was a huge fan of this wonderful Babuji. I felt so fortunate happy and confident,” she wrote.
However, she recalled that one night, Nath 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. My co-star realised what was happening and got me out of there,” she added.
“We went back to the hotel without dinner. It was late and I was back in my room and the costume dada [uncle] came to my room to give me my clothes for the next day as I had a very early call time. Few minutes, after he left there was a knock on my door I opened the door thinking it was him again. It was an inebriated Alok Nath. 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’,” she recalled.
The actress claims she ultimately had to latch the bathroom door and then ran out of her room down the corridor into the lobby. After she sought help from the show’s director of photography, Mridul says “what ensued was traumatic because a belligerent Alok Nath refused to leave. He kept screaming, shouting, threatening, abusing, trying to grab me... but at some point we managed to make him leave”.
This, when in a few hours that she had scenes with ‘Bauji’.
“In one, I had to sit on his lap and cry. I still feel nauseous when I think of it,” said Mridul, adding that Nath continued drinking every evening and would “traumatise” her with calls to her room every night.
One day, she recounted, he said to her that he was an alcoholic and that he had destroyed everything — his family and his marriage.
“I finally broke my silence. I screamed, shouted, cried and it was done. I believed him. I had to.”
Mridul says she is grateful to her co-actors, the DOP and the late Lagoo for taking him on and protecting her.
“But it was too late. The damage was done. A very disillusioned, disgraced and unsure me returned home.”
According to Nath, Alok then told people that she “difficult and arrogant.”
“Alok Nath. You know this to be true. As do few others. I had to forgive you for myself then and for my sanity, but I will never forgive you for what you did with Vinta. Whom I have always respected and loved. I stand by you Vinta. What I went through is nothing compared to you.”