Taking a stand

When I was studying at Pune University, one day we heard of a Mumbai television unit that was shooting on the campus. I trooped off to go see the action and I stood there watching Vinta Nanda directing. I remember seeing her as this exuberant, energetic director and wondering if I had to shed being soft spoken and shy to become a director myself. To me, she represented a strong person who knew where she was going.

A few days ago, when Vinta Nanda revealed her horrific experience I was aghast. I realised that she was far far stronger than I had realised then. But also far far more traumatised than anyone could have imagined. She belonged to the golden age of television where she helmed multiple shows that are still iconic and wielded considerable power. And yet this is what she was going through. Imagine the plight of newcomers and those who are at weaker positions in this ecosystem.

Screen Shot 2018-10-11 at 20.27.05

Image Courtesy : The News Minute

As women we often are aware of the traumatic stories of harassment that are shared through hushed whispers. Now, with Vinta Nanda sharing her 19 year old experience publicly, the rest of the Mumbai film industry has woken up to reality. They have pledged support to Me Too survivors from the industry.

(Read here https://www.ndtv.com/entertainment/after-vinta-nanda-reveals-rape-trauma-producers-guild-pledges-support-for-metoo-survivors-1929248)

In swift action the Producers Guild have set up a special committee for the same (Read here – https://www.ndtv.com/entertainment/producers-guild-sets-up-a-special-committee-to-help-metoo-survivors-1930080) Networks like Hotstar are cancelling successful shows made by alleged perpetrators. Film Festivals like MAMI are dropping films by alleged perpetrators. Companies like Phantom Films are shutting down to avoid working with alleged perpetrators. Actors like Aamir Khan are walking out of films engaging alleged perpetrators. The actor organisation CINTAA is sending a show-cause notice threatening expulsion to their member – an alleged perpetrator and they have extended full support to the Survivor (who is not their member).

(Read here https://www.indiatoday.in/television/top-stories/story/cintaa-notice-alok-nath-sushant-singh-full-support-1359089-2018-10-09)

By such powerful action the Mumbai Film Industry are taking a stand – that such violations are NOT acceptable in this industry.

In 2017, a woman actor who was actively working in the Malayalam film industry for 15 years, was sexually assaulted. She spoke up about her experience (as soon as it happened) and filed a police complaint and is taking things ahead to ensure the culprits are brought to book legally.  Kerala is home-ground to powerful film bodies, many of whom have shown strong solidarity with one another. Not to forget powerful actors and powerful writers & makers whose work has won international acclaim from the world.

And yet…  where is the proactive action supporting the survivors?

This too is a stand. A highly disturbing one.

 

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13 thoughts on “Taking a stand

  1. Dear Maam, I was wondering, why you were never making a post of what happened in 2017. Better late than Never. Thank you.
    India has been slaves of Brahminism and those obsessed by Brahminism. So even if Malayalam cinema excessively represents Nairs (who are hardly 14% of population but obsessed by Brahminism), our movies and almost everything around it has been anti women.
    No one would agree in Kerala, but Malayaalees too idolise our male stars and what they shout on the screen are swallowed as life truths. I remember when Vadakkan Veeragadha released, that particular dialogue by Chandu (Sthree – nee chirichu kondu karayum and so on..), was so so much talked about and I remember how it was used by many men to show how truthful it is about women (as if men don’t cheat!!!). Almost every Malayalam cinema, even now, will have something about how a proper woman has to be etc. Hardly anyone tried to point out that all these derogatory comments were written down by men, who were brought up in an extremely patriarchal culture and who sincerely believed men had the right to do what they want and so on.
    It is so shocking and sad that even in the backgrounds of the cinema world, life for female artists were horrible, and many of them had gone through terrible experiences.
    I wish you all, female artists who are raising your voices against those misogynist pigs in AMMA, all the courage in this world. You are all my ‘Heroes’

    What I really hope for is Malayaali women to come out and say that we are not going to watch the cinema of these shameless actors and directors. But I know it will never happen as this is Kerala. We see our women, even if pushed by communal and political organisations, come out and protest against stopping a ‘few decades’ long ‘ancient’ tradition, which categorized women as impure! When 69% of educated women in Kerala believes that their husband has the right to slap and control the wife, expecting them to speak out for wider issues would be stupid.
    Hence my sincere salutes to all of you who do act!!!
    Bravo

      • 🙂 Sure I did maam and know what you mean 🙂
        Its more than high time for change… but…. mmmmm Even when Bollywood acts, why nothing here.. You heard what some so called ‘journalists’ asked in your last Press briefing about AMMA.. mmmmm in 2018 !!!!!!!!????
        I hear the comments of some very ‘educated’ women about all of you and am afraid these journalists and women don’t represent a minority.
        For them RESPECT is supposed to be a one way traffic and women don’t deserve it.
        Am sorry, my English is not good enough to clearly express what I want. But My Support for what you do.

        • Dear Maam,
          Am really sorry. I completely misunderstood your reply. I didnt realise you were talking about another post of yours and hence that comment.. Apologies.
          If you like to you may delete my reply to your comment.
          Warn regards
          Rajesh

  2. Kerala is the land where nobody has any shame when others call them liars. Because telling a lie is their day-to-day business. I am wondering how much tonnes of lies may have been told in a day by an average man in Kerala! And that’s why when a serious allegation comes, a prominent man can laugh at it simply saying that he does not remember anything and his wife comes forward to justify him with some polished lies. The same thing happened in 2017 when a well-known actress had been brutally raped. How many tonnes of lies had been vomited out on that series of events? Even the prominent actors like Mohan Lal has puked a lot of lies, and still, it is going on.

  3. Well said!
    Now to get specific, hopefully. And more. That what is said is heard. And more. That measures to address this are set in action… And more. May it put the fear of…. whatever… in them.

    Thank you

  4. More than a sexual assault it was a conspiracy to finish off a woman from cinema and might be from life. Giving quotation to rape and humiliate a woman is the worst that can be tolerated by any sensible society . The incident has similarity to what has been done even to male actors like Tilakan & director Vinayan. Are these organisations operating in democratic India? Or under what legal protection they operate freely undemocratically and unconstitutionLly?

  5. The scale of exploitation of women in the entertainment industry is astounding. I had not thought it was so rampant, until the outpouring of women surfaced online recently. Where does that leave our future generations? What options do they have? Will the ‘me too’ movement be a deterrent to sexual predators, it is too early to say anything. But I am glad that influential role models like yourself have chosen to speak about this openly.

  6. Absolutely agree here!

    Along with the media, its very important for each and every one of us to take a stand in any social issue. The mass is always more powerful than an organization. If we as individuals continue to show our protests and thought process in a modest humble manner by voicing our our thoughts in the social media, by not going to watch the movies of the perpetrators, or by talking against the hecklers and bad-mouthing who use foul language to shut down a person or a thought in the public media, a LOT can be achieved.
    As SRK once popularly said, “Never underestimate the power of a common man!”

  7. Influence of crime and black money and crime lords having their sway on film production has been an important factor. There are a few artists whose ambition to hit the big screen compel them to make compromises. Another factor is the long time soent at shooting locations develop many type of relationships, wherher one agree or not. Having said that to blame only men and to give a clean chit to all women is also wrong. Knowig few instances from social contexts, there is another side of the story which can’t be narrated openly.
    Another factor is the overall standards of artists and the way in which they hve to survive in a “man eating man” industry. All norms of morality are thrown to the wind where name, fame and financial success become the benchmark for measuring success.

  8. നന്നായിട്ടുണ്ട് .. ! ഹലോ മേഡം/അഞ്ജലി ചേച്ചി ,, പുതിയ പടത്തിൽ വരികളെഴുതുവാൻ ഒരവസരം തരാമോ ? ഇഷ്ടമായാൽ പരിഗണിയ്ക്കുമോ ? നന്ദി.
    jergeo@yahoo.com

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