Post actor Divya Gopinath's Me Too allegations against veteran actor Alencier, director of 'Aabhasam', Jubith Namradath has come out in full support for her. In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Jubith not only corroborated Divya's account of the harassment, but also called out Alencier's predatory behaviour and announced that he stood by the young actor.
"I will reiterate Divya's written and spoken words over a 100 times. Any sensible person who has worked in 'Aabhasam' will stand by her," he wrote. Aabhasam was Jubith's directorial debut. It had both Divya and Alencier play important roles and it was during this film's shoot that Alencier had allegedly harassed Divya.
Stating that he read Alencier's defence against the allegations, Jubith called out the actor’s weak arguments.
"I had read Alencier's defence against the allegations, in Manorama. He said that the set of Aabhasam was fun and everybody could walk into each other’s rooms and everyone drank. He called the incident a drunken mistake he committed during one such session. He also said that Divya's account is not entirely true and that he did not kick the door open, but merely knocked on the door. The set was fun because Aabhasam had a team of versatile cast and crew. It was because of the efforts of all involved – right from the producer, production team, direction team, camera team, the actors and everybody else which created that atmosphere in the set. What Alencier did was take clear advantage of such a working environment," Jubith wrote.
The post went on to detail Alencier's predatory behaviour during the film's shoot.
"There is no specific protocol to enter the rooms of the costume designer, assistant director, friends, actresses and other women technicians. Only their permission is required. However, it’s predatory behaviour when one gets inebriated and with a specific intention, knocks on the (victim’s) door and keeps knocking when she doesn't open. On realising that the door was unlocked, he enters the room and slides under the girl's blanket. What kind of behaviour is this?" he asked.
He then dismissed the 'drunk excuse' which Alencier readily offered when confronted with the accusations.
"Alcohol is not the villain here. The intentions of the drinker is the villain. “I was drunk” is just an excuse to use in the future. Haven't we seen this happen many times in close circles? Alencier has fallen into a trap which those with a fan mentality – who adore the distasteful behaviour of superstars on sets frequently fall into. Today it’s Alencier, tomorrow let it be these super stars," he says.
In her anonymous Facebook post on Monday, Divya had described several incidents, the first of which included Alencier ogling at her breasts at a lunch table, walking into her room more than once, and once, going to the extent of getting under the bed sheets while she was sleeping.
Jubith added that on hearing the complaints, he had to handle the situation in a tactful manner by appointing an assistant director just to monitor Alencier's activities.
"We had to appoint someone just to manage him – where he went, whose rooms he visited, who were the people in these rooms – was being monitored. To a certain extent, this helped control his behaviour in the set. Aabhasam had an initial investment of 3 crores. Therefore, my first priority was to complete the shoot within the stipulated time. Since this was my directorial debut, my inexperience dealing with such situations can be factored in," he said.
Alencier, predictably, did not take well to being constantly monitored, and lashed out by behaving unprofessionally during the second schedule of the shoot, Jubith said.
"He had shaved off his hair when he returned after the schedule gap, tossing continuity (in appearance) to the winds. When we asked him about this, he said, "Yours is not the only film I'm working on, I have other projects too, no?” He would often replace dialogues with swear words during combination scenes and say that "since the movie is titled 'Aabhasam' (which translates to ‘vulgar’), swearing is allowed. We managed to somehow shoot all his scenes the way we wanted it," he said.
Standing in solidarity with Divya, Jubith reminded readers that Divya was not Alencier's sole victim and hoped that others too would take their time and come out with their stories.