“He was my best friend’s husband, as well as a good friend”

Vinta Nanda, filmmaker, and writer of film and TV scripts recounts her gut-wrenching #MeToo story

geetanjali

Geetanjali Minhas | October 15, 2018 | Mumbai


#Vinta Nanda   #time up   #women safety   #molestation   #office harassment   #sexual harassment   #MeToo   #Alok Nath  
Vinta Nanda (Photo: Facebook/VintaNanda)
Vinta Nanda (Photo: Facebook/VintaNanda)

Among the first to speak up about rape in Bollywood in the #MeToo India campaign is Vinta Nanda, filmmaker, and writer of film and TV scripts. She recounted her gut-wrenching story of being raped by actor Alok Nath as part of the campaign. 

 
You are a big name in the industry. Why did you hold back from speaking about the incident (the rape by Alok Nath) all these years?
I did speak up. When I was making White Noise around 2004, I gave an interview in the Times of India. I also wrote about it in  L’Officiel magazine but nobody noticed it, wanted to talk about it, or even tell me they had read it. Everywhere I have been saying that I have already spoken about it but the atmosphere then was such that nobody wanted to even discuss it.

 
 
Did you confide in your family and friends?
Everyone knew of it and had asked me to keep quiet because that was the best thing to do.
 
Within your production unit, did you confide in your director or producer?
No, I did not. I was intelligent enough to know that it will not work in my favour at all and the weight will tilt towards the perpetrator.
 
Did you ever think of lodging a complaint with the police or go to court?
I did not think of doing that because I had already seen that the atmosphere was such that doing so wouldn’t help. And I would have been a greater victim than I already was.
 
All these years, did you meet other women who spoke about similar experiences? 
Yes, of course. Many.
 
No one thought of speaking out?
No, because we had all seen what happened to those who speak up.
 
Do you think the internet and the social media has made a difference?
Definitely. It is the #MeToo movement that has given courage to everyone to come out and speak.
 
Do you fear that you may be ostracised?
Right now, no. I have got tremendous support and everyone is rallying around me and I have absolute confidence in the feeling that I am being believed. It is just overwhelming, and I am very grateful for receiving all the support. I don’t feel victimised.
 
Do you have faith in the police and court procedures?
Now, yes. Because police and court procedures work only if society supports you.
 
What are your views on the #MeToo movement in India?
It has propelled and galvanised the issue and definitely given women courage and confidence. I am a living example of that. To just come out and speak and be heard irrespective of what the consequences will be.
 
How are you going to take it forward  now?
I am in discussion with my lawyers.
 
How can help be provided to women who have been sexually violated?
I think things need to change and we are on the cusp of change right now. Today, women are definitely safer that when I was violated. I believe things will change in favour of women.
 
In your case, the perpetrator was your friend’s husband.
My best friend’s husband...as well as a good friend. We were working together so it was relationship of trust. Except the fact that the times we were living in were really pathetic. Nothing happened.
 
What is your advice to young girls today?
Don’t be silent. Come out and speak up. The world is standing by you right now and it will forever now. 
 
What are the steps industry bodies should take in such cases?
They are coming out in support and I have no doubt that they will stand by people like us in future.
 
geetanjali@governancenow.com 

(The interview appears in October 31, 2018 edition)

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