EXCLUSIVE: Renuka Shahane shares her MeToo story; opens up about Alok Nath's sexual harassment allegations

Alok Nath's Hum Aapke Hai Kaun co-star, Renuka Shahane, in an EXCLUSIVE interview with us, hit back at those questioning the victims of sexual harassment and asked, "How can someone victimize the victim more by pointing fingers at them first? Why can't people give the victim a benefit of doubt for a change?"
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The MeToo movement has finally reached India with women showing courage and naming and shaming the sexual predators on social media. Many names from the industry including Alok Nath, Rajat Kapoor, Vikas Bahl, Utsav Chakraborty, Varun Grover have been accused of the heinous crime. Ever since Tara producer Vinta Nanda shared her horrific experience related to Alok Nath on Facebook, everyone was left numb and shocked with the details. While a swarm of people have come to her support, there are others who have been questioning her story and asking why did it take her 20 years to share this? Nath's Hum Aapke Hai Kaun co-star, Renuka Shahane, in an EXCLUSIVE interview with us, however, hit back at them and asked, "How can someone victimize the victim more by pointing fingers at them first? Why can't people give the victim a benefit of doubt for a change?"

Shahane, who is known for being a straightforward person, said that she is very proud of the committees who have taken these matters seriously. She also opened up about her own horrific experience and questioned why men who knew about Alok Nath did not open up before rather than questioning the victim about the same. To those questioning why Vinta took so long to open up, Renuka said, "It is not about an easy thing to say." She questioned, "It is not just the question of women, I know so many men who have been harassed as kids.. how many of them can speak out? It is not about gender, anyone who has undergone trauma of this sort, it takes years because our society, firstly, questions the victim, blames them. Also, when women are concerned, it doubles up if you are someone who likes to party, who has a lot of male friends, so the onus is on them. No one is ready to give the benefit of doubt to the victim. Fingers are always pointed at the victim which really needs to change. At least listen, at least take it seriously."

She further stated, "Sometimes there is no reason for sharing it after so long. Sometimes you have to work out your guilt that maybe I did something wrong, and gain your confidence back. Ater having gone through your healing process and perhaps now that you have nothing to lose, you are coming out."

She further elaborated what really derails the movement is this constant effort by the society to pull down those who finally find the voice to share their experiences. "What really affects me is how can you victimize the victim further and thereby push others who want to open up? Now, social media is a place where everybody is finding solid in each other and there is security in anonymity. What derails the entire movement though is the same questions being asked to the victim ki itne time ke badh kyu bola, publicity chahiye.. Okay fine.. publicity chahiye agar aap keh rahe ho toh, are you also saying that that thing did not happen? Agar hua toh shouldn't it be dealt with at some point of time."

She mentioned in tweets that Deepika Amin shared her case with Alok Nath with her many years ago...?​ To this, she shared, "Yes, Deepika Amin did. Obviously, she is my friend. I can't just go out and say this is what she has faced. Alok Nath was a big name. People are saying that he is no Salman Khan but on Television, he was the top star. People believed in him because of the work he did, he was a fantastic actor and still is. I worked with him in Hum Aapke Hai Kaun and Imtihaan. He played my father in Imtihaan and no where during the filming of these film or serial did I ever feel that this touch was not good. So, if you ask my personal experience it was amazing. It was much later that Deepika shared the incident in confidence with me in the late 1990s. But when I had heard that I had also heard other men talking who attended parties. I am not a party person so I did not see it with my own eyes but in the industry, many people knew about this. Why aren't these men being questioned that why did they do nothing when they knew about this?  Why did they cast him in their films and serials repetitively?"

She explained, "I will tell you why? If you read Sandhya's [Mridul] case, in that she said that after the end of this, she cried like a small baby when he said that he will change his ways. We all have that we should give a second chance if he is really feeling that bad and horrible. That poor girl in good fate said fine but he went back and maligned her. Everybody today is coming ahead with their stories because they feel that a few people will hear. But earlier, people spoke to individuals, who would advice them to try and forget it and things. This can lead to depression, lack of courage to go back to the situation or outdoors."

By this, Renuka even shared her MeToo story wherein she explained how such situations can leave you shaken for life. "I will confess and there is no person that I could blame. I had gone to shoot to Noida for Antakshari, a new studio of Zee had come out there so we had gone there to shoot outdoors and I had done many outdoors so I was used to being alone in the room. There was this person who came for room service and he started masturbating in front of me. First, he said that he is a big fan of mine and all that and I said thank you. After placing the food, he started masturbating. It is such a horrifying thing and I immediately told him to get out and will complaint with the manager. Post this, I called my Antakshari assistant Ashwini to come up to the room and stay with me. I was so shaken to the core. Ever since after that I am never alone in my room. I am always with my hairdresser. People feel that only in industry such incidence happen but there are so many random people whom you have to deal with."

Do you think this will help more girls to come out and share their experiences? Renuka stated, "I think it will give the young people who have started out the kind of strength because they will know that there are other people who will stand up for them. Otherwise, there was this whole sense of secrecy that had to be kept at a particular point. There was no social media. When and if sexual abuse happens in a family, it is kept as the biggest secrets. People are not ready to talk about, nor complaint, because they know the kind of harassment one has to go through if they go to the police with the complaint. I think earlier harassment and sexual abuse was not taken seriously but I think the awareness has come after the case of Nirbhaya."

She added, "Yes, a lot of people from the media and journalists have been targeted because we are in a way more vocal media, we are used to communicating and yet you can see that people who are writers, directors, women who have suffered silently have now found strength because it is a collective and now they know there will be at least two people who will stand up for them. Earlier, we did not have that kind of system in place. I think the best thing that has happened because of this entire thing is the stand the Producers Association, The Directors Association and the Actors Associations in our industry have taken, it was not the same stand 10 years ago. That time it used to be to settle it at personal level, raat gayi baat gayi."

However, she also emphasized on the fact that people misusing the movement will derail the process. "What really derails the process is the misuse which happens a lot just like what happens with the dowry law. There are a lot of people who are not understanding that in a consensual relationship and if you have broken up, you cannot suddenly say that it is sexual harassment. That is what is happening a lot too."

She continued, "In a power structure, if a woman is a boss and misusing her power, then she is an abuser, and she has to be called out for it. There is no doubt about it. But if you see the percentage, more amount of harassment is done to women because it has a sexual connotation. Traditionally, if you see any industry, there may be 25% women and 75% of men... so obviously, there are more men in power than women, hence, more stories of women coming out as victims will be the norm."

Lastly, when asked if a MeToo movement in West can be replicated here in India given that we saw that a Harvey Weinstein became bank corrupt after being alleged of sexual harassment. To this, she concluded, "I think it is happening in small ways, Amazon and Netflix have withdrawn themselves from a project, Aamir Khan has withdrawn from a project following sexual harassment charges against a particular member. So, it has put the onus on the people to be more accountable. So it is a big step if you ask me. As I said, I am thankful to the committees as far as my industry is considered because now, I feel they will be more particular about following the Vishaka Committee guidelines. I think that is a change."


I love her! Bless you Renuka

This wonderful opinion can only be given by my great golden days DD super women "Hates off" dear mam for well spoken opinion.

You are great Renuka ji... You put your opinion covering all the angles with so much of clarity.... I am your great fan and my respect for you doubled now... Yes even males become a victim of sexual harassment and it takes months to come to terms and healing process is tough to handle many times...

Renuka is such a well spoken lady! I enjoy reading her thoughts on whats going on the industry. Her comments are well thought out and always constructive. She really try's to encourage younger people with her comments!

what kind of a world are we living. The last few days have been horrible reading all these stories. I just hope and pray the world becomes a better and safer place for everyone.

I liked how she has put forth her opinion on this with so much clarity and matured approach!


Such an articulate woman!

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