NEW DELHI: Oct 12, 2018: Actress Himani Shivpuri, who has worked with Alok Nath in several films and in television, revealed in an interview to news agency PTI that the industry has always been aware of the veteran actor’s alcohol-fuelled split personality. Himani Shivpuri, who shared screen-space with Mr. Nath in films such as Hum Saath Saath Hai, Pardes and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and also in TV show Ghar Ek Sapnaa (which ran between 2007 and 2009), said the actor’s behavior used to change completely ‘after having liquor’. Alok Nath, who became associated with the ‘sanskaari’ tag because of the recurring virtuous roles he played in films and shows, is the subject of the several #MeToo stories beginning with a terrifying account of alleged rape and persecution by Vinta Nanda, the writer of his Nineties’ TV show Tara.
“If he has done it, then it is very bad. You cannot force any woman to do anything against her will, using your power. It is tough for women,” said Himani Shivpuri, adding a reference to the fictional character of Dr. Henry Jekyll, whose evil alternate ego was Edward Hyde: “Whenever we shot in daytime, he would be mild and normal but after having liquor he used to be this Jekyll and Hyde person. He used to change completely. I heard from actresses that they had a tough time working with him,” PTI quoted her as saying.
Himani Shivpuri said she encountered first-hand an instance of Mr. Nath’s allegedly terrible behavior on a flight. “While we were in Dubai once for ITA awards, he had consumed liquor and his wife was worried and was disturbed with his behavior as he was drunk. He was also once caught peeing in open and was deplaned from a flight as he had misbehaved on the flight. Media it seems was ill-informed about his image. Everybody knows what kind of a person he is. Some things are open secret in the industry,” PTI quoted her as saying.
Ms Shivpuri’s account is an echo of what Tara actor Deven Bhojani said he has heard from others. Speaking to Zoom TV, he said he’s heard stories of Alok Nath’s “drunken behavior” and how he turns into a “crazy” person after drinking.
After Vinta Nanda’s lengthy post on Facebook, for which harrowing is too mild a description, allegations have piled up against Alok Nath from actresses Sandhya Mridul and Deepika Amin and an anonymous member from the crew of 1999 film Hum Saath-Saath Hain. While Ms Nanda is yet to take legal action against Mr. Nath, top film bodies including IFTDA have issued legal notices to the actor. A show-cause notice from CINTAA asks him to explain why he should not immediately be expelled from the film body; FWICE has asked Mr. Nath to respond to the accusations or be boycotted by the association. On his part, Alok Nath told ABP News he could ‘neither deny nor agree with’ Ms Nanda’s account of rape. On Wednesday, his lawyer dismissed the allegations as ‘false’ and said a defamation suit will be filed against Ms Nanda.
Two weeks before Vinita Nanda’s Facebook post, in which she’s accused Alok Nath of raping and brutalizing her 19 years ago, and later making it difficult for her to get work, shocked social media, actress Tanushree Dutta revived a decade-old allegation of harassment against Nana Patekar. She’s accused Nana Patekar of sexual misconduct on the sets of a 2008 film, which he denied and subsequently sent a legal notice to Ms Dutta asking for an apology.
In her interview to PTI, Himani Shivpuri applauded Ms Dutta and Ms Nanda for speaking out and said: “Hats off to Tanushree Dutta and Vinta Nanda for speaking about it after so many years. When Tanushree spoke about it, she was thrown out of the industry 10 years ago. It is the women who get targeted because the society will point fingers at them.”
“People were not that willing to open up at that time, even Vinta reported this after so many years,” she added.
When asked if she ever experienced sexual harassment in the Hindi film industry during her career, Himani Shivpuri said she will speak out when the time is right: “They are still around. When I want to name them, I will name them. It will not be one name, there will be quite a few names. These incidents happened early in my career,” she said, adding she is does not want to become a ‘sensational piece of news’.
Apart from Alok Nath and Nana Patekar, other prominent industry members such as filmmaker Vikas Bahl, singer Kailash Kher and poet-lyricist Vairamuthu have also been implicated as alleged sexual predators in separate #MeToo accounts.
(With PTI inputs)