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Amita Nangia: Drunk Alok Nath once slapped a pilot

The actress, who featured in the teleserial Tara, did not know of the rape accusation against the veteran, but revealed that Alok Nath had a drinking problem and was often abusive on the sets.

Mayur Lookhar

Alok Nath is the latest film personality to be exposed in the #MeToo campaign raging in India.

In a shocking revelation, veteran writer-producer Vinta Nanda said the film and TV actor had raped her in the 1990s and outraged her modesty again thereafter.

Nanda was the writer of the popular television serial Tara, which ran from 1993 through 1997. Cinestaan.com spoke to two artistes who featured in the teleserial, both of whom said they were unaware of the rape charge but were not surprised by it.

Amita Nangia, who played the character Sheena in the serial, backed Nanda. “I was not aware of the [alleged] rape incident, but I fully believe Vinta,” she said.

Nangia came down hard on Alok Nath, characterizing him as an alcoholic who often resorted to abusive behaviour. “Alokji used to drink a lot," she recalled. "A lot of times he would just go out of hand. We had all seen him misbehaving with Navneet Nishan [who played the title role]. That incident was reported in the media then."

According to Nanda, Alok Nath had often tried to misbehave with Nishan and the latter had once slapped him after he called her a drug addict. Nangia said she was not witness to the particular episode but she had seen Alok Nath lose control at a couple of private shows.

"I can’t even explain it to you," she told Cinestaan.com. "It happened in Dubai, and then in another show. Once drunk, he would get very cheap and abuse people around. He has this image of a sanskari [cultured] guy, so back then it would have been hard for people to believe this about him.”

The 1990s actress recalled another incident in Dubai where Alok Nath got abusive with an airline crew. "I can’t recall the exact year or the airline, but once he was stranded at Dubai airport after he was taken off the flight," she said. "We heard that he was drunk and had a quarrel with the crew, and even slapped a pilot. Navneet, Neha Sharad, Raja Bundela, Vinta Nanda, Alok Nath’s wife were all on the same flight."

Recently, a pilot of a leading airline had told Cinestaan.com that Alok Nath was one of those blacklisted by the airline for improper conduct. 

Nangia said the actor was notorious for bad behaviour and most of his colleagues had got used to it. “He was Nanda’s friend, and he was respected as an actor," she said. "But after drinking, he was a different personality. He was terrible. At shows, he would start drinking from the morning.

"I fully believe Nanda, she is telling the truth. I am stunned how she has opened up after so many years. Maybe [she kept quiet] because she was friends with Alok Nath’s wife.” 

Actor-director Deven Bhojani had come into the show later, but he recalled being surprised how four or five shows by Nanda were suddenly shut down.

Bhojani played a gay character called Petha in Tara. He, too, was stunned by the rape allegation against Alok Nath.

“I had joined [Tara] when the younger generation track came into being," Bhojani recalled. "I played Tara daughter’s Devyani's best friend. My track was not with Alok Nath. But I had heard stories of how he was a nice guy by day, but once the sun set he was very different.”

While Bhojani said he never personally witnessed Alok Nath’s alleged misconduct, he was perplexed why a host of shows produced by Nanda were abruptly shut by Zee TV, the channel that was airing them. 

“I was part of two shows, of the four or five shows that were produced by Vinta Nanda and Raman Kumar for the channel," he said. "I was part of Tara and V Three Plus. I shot for about 20-25 days in a month for these shows.

"All these shows were axed overnight. Something happened between the production house and the channel. I was left jobless for 4-5 months.

"Apparently, the channel's creative heads had changed, and we assumed the decision was taken due to creative differences between the makers and the channel,” said Bhojani.

The question of scrapping the shows on account of poor TRPs did not arise back then as TAM Media Research, the company that introduced TV viewership ratings in India, only came into existence in 1998.

“We didn’t have TAM ratings then, but Tara was hugely popular," Bhojani said. "V Three Plus was a moderate success. It was hard to believe 4-5 shows by Vinta were axed together.

"Last night, after reading her post, I now know why the shows were scrapped. I didn’t know Vinta on a personal level, but I always found her to be a very creative, chilled out person. I must appreciate Vinta for the courage she has shown after all these years to speak out against what she went through.” 

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Sexual harassment