The rape allegation against Alok Nath by writer-director Vinta Nanda comes as no surprise to those who were privy to the goings-on during the shooting of the marathon serial Tara on Zee. It was the first of its kind on satellite television and we were all hooked to the tantalizing soap for four years.
However the behind-the-scenes peccadilloes during the shooting of Tara were far more interesting than anything that we saw on screen. The serial’s superstar pair Navneet and Alok couldn’t stand each other and were constantly bickering and arguing. On a number of times they nearly came to blows on the sets.Oh, how we loved hearing about Tara and her tyrannical co-star’s ongoing battle.
Matters came to such a head that the serial’s producers and creative heads had to choose between the two. Navneet or Alok , one had to go.And since Navneet played the title role and—let’s face it—she was more popular than her co-star, Alok was written out of Tara.
Practically everyone associated with Tara including the talented writer Vinta Nanda, sided with Navneet, thereby isolating Alok Nath to the extent that he went from being a household name to a persona non grata. But the image of the holier-than-thou patriarch who drank Gangajal after sundown was stuck to him .
Alok Nath was given the ‘Sanskari Babuji’ image from pre-Tara stint on the hugely successful Doordarshan serial Buniyaad where he played the patriarch Haveli Ram to perfection.
Alok hated the goodygoody image and told me, “I’d do anything to escape the image of the saintly patriarch.That isn’t me. I like my share of fun. I am like any normal person.”
He temporarily escaped Haveli Ram’s clutches by playing the rakish entrepreneur Deepak Seth in Tara. But the Sanskari image wouldn’t leave him.After struggling with bit roles in a series of forgotten films Alok Nath finally rediscovered his bearings in Sooraj Barjatya’s Hum…Aapke Hain Koun. This time the image of the benign Babuji stuck. Nothing that Alok would do would eradicate that image. Quite recently he played a very naughty non-Sanskari patriarch in Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety. But to no avail.
“I guess I am destined to be stuck with this image,” he sighed when I told him audiences won’t accept him as a rogue.
Now I guess he has found the notoriety that he was subconsciously craving for. The Sanskari Babuji’s image has finally been crushed to the ground.
The fear is palpable. Who will be named(and shamed) next. There are 65-year old producers wondering if they ever made a remark 30-40 years ago that could be construed as improper.
Thanks to a plucky actress called Tanushree Dutta, the MeToo movement has finally made its presence felt on Indian shores. The entertainment industry is stirred. But not shaken. Most of the alleged offenders will brazen it out, because they know it is business as usual once this current trend of naming and shaming dies down.
Alok Nath just may have the last laugh.