Amidst The #MeToo Movement, Malayalam Film Industry Accused Of Being Unjust Towards Survivors
The Logical Indian Crew Kerala
October 18th, 2018 / 6:20 PM
Image Credits: The Indian Express
With the #MeToo movement gaining momentum and men and women coming to the forefront to stand in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault, fraternities from film industries in India have also woken up to allegations of sexual harassment. Film industries have witnessed actors and filmmakers quitting films involving names of people who have been accused by survivors of sexual assault. While the Tamil and Telugu film industries have announced a panel to verify allegations, the Kannada film industry is in the process of setting up an Internal Complaints Committee, the Malayalam film industry has been accused of its misogynistic attitude and wrongfully supporting the accused instead of the survivor.
The Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) has accused the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) of “victim shaming” and “mocking” women who have spoken up against the sexual assault on a south Indian actress. The women of this association have also claimed that AMMA is acting against the interests of women and is an unsafe place to discuss their problems.
Media conference in Kochi
“I do not think they are just… they (the AMMA leadership) are unjust,” senior actress and WCC leader Revathy told a media conference in Kochi.
Bina Paul Venugopal, deputy director, Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, director Anjali Menon, scriptwriter DeediDamodaran and actresses Rima Kallingal, Ramya Nambeesan, and Sajitha Madhathil were present at the media meet.
Revathy, who came in the spotlight when she said that many years ago a 17-year old girl had knocked on her door in a distressed state and asked Revathy to save her during a shoot. She protested against AMMA when it decided to reinstate prominent south Indian actor Dileep. Dileep was released on bail after being arrested for conspiracy in February 2017 in a kidnapping and assault case, reported The Telegraph.
AMMA slammed for misogynistic attitude
Other actresses to have slammed AMMA for the way it treated survivors.
“The AMMA executive committee has handled the entire issue with extreme duplicity, in a callous manner and with vested interests. Instead of standing up for what is right, they have revealed the deep-seated misogynistic bias and have closed ranks on us,” said award-winning actress Parvathy Thiruvoth.
The WCC, which is a platform of actresses, directors, scriptwriters and singers in the Malayalam film industry, was launched after the actress was molested on her way back home in her car in February 2017. Later, the assaulted actress along with three other actresses had resigned from the AMMA.
“When I complained to AMMA, no serious measures were taken then. When I recently had a bad experience, the organisation, of which I am also a part of, went on to protect him,” said the assaulted actress, according to a report by The News Minute.
Stark contrast between AMMA and other film organizations
The glaring difference between AMMA and other film organisations’ reaction to allegations of sexual assault and harassment is clear because while actors like Aamir Khan and Akshay Kumar were busy supporting survivors for coming to the fore with their tragic experiences, popular director B. Unnikrishnan decided to cast Dileep as the protagonist in his next film. “Here, in Mollywood, a director is offering a chance to the accused in his next movie,” said Parvathy.
Actress Rima Kallingal showed disappointment in what is happening in the Malayalam film industry compared to how other film industries are reacting to the #MeToo campaign. People like Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao denied working in a film with an accused, and Akshay Kumar refused to shoot for Sajid Khan’s Housefull 4. Rajat Kapoor’s film (Kadakh) was dropped by Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI), and Amazon Prime Video terminated a deal with AIB for existing and upcoming shows. Due to allegations against one of Phantom Film’ founders, the production house was dismantled.
“But look what is happening in our industry. Soon after Dileep was released, B Unnikrishnan announced a movie with him,” said Rima Kallingal.
AMMA secretary Siddique’s take
Siddique had to say that what Aamir Khan and Akshay Kumar did was wrong because walking out of movies based on allegations was not justified. He questioned whether Aamir and Akshay would have walked out of the said projects had they been accused on the other hand.
“We will not accept that (Akshay Kumar and Aamir Khan quitting films) as an example and deny Dileep job opportunities,” said AMMA secretary Siddique.
The Logical Indian Take
The #MeToo movement is a new beginning which has prompted survivors in the film and entertainment industries to voice their complaints against people accused of sexual assault. These incidents, otherwise, might have remained in the dark.
Every film organisation must treat these allegations with utmost seriousness.
Written by : Sumanti Sen
Edited by : Bharat Nayak