A week after Malayalam director Vidhu Vincent made her resignation letter submitted to the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) public, actor Parvathy has responded to the allegations made against her.
In her letter, Vidhu had said that she had sent Parvathy the script of Stand Up but that the actor did not respond to her despite the intervention of director Anjali Menon and others. This was one of the examples for the 'double standards' of the WCC that Vidhu had cited.
However, in her statement published on her Facebook page, Parvathy has refuted Vidhu's allegations. Stating that she was "disturbed" that she had to do this, Parvathy said that she was required to provide a public clarification to Vidhu since the latter had made her allegations publicly.
"In May 2018, my work for My Story and Koode was being completed but I was fatigued by the long ensuing hate campaigns and threats that were being made against me at that time. I was advised to take a break from work for a few months ceasing work communications," Parvathy writes.
In December 2017, Parvathy had called out the misogyny in the Mammootty film Kasaba at a panel on women's representation on screen. Following this, the actor faced a barrage of abuse and threats for months together. Several colleagues from the Malayalam film industry even actively encouraged the abuse.
Noting that she recommenced work with Uyare in November, Parvathy says that Vidhu had raised the issue of Parvathy not responding to her casting offer at a WCC meeting.
"When I was asked about this matter, I distinctly remember messaging Vidhu with profuse apologies explaining that I had been away and not known anything about her project. She clarified that she had tried to contact me on Whatsapp; I requested her to resend the message. She did and it was a single message with a one-paragraph synopsis of the film dated May 30, 2018. I apologised again and asked her if she would still consider me for the role. She was keen so we agreed to meet on the sets of Uyare. As a professional practice, I discourage script narrations on sets but I suggested this only because I did not want to delay this any further. Meanwhile, as I was feeling bad about this, I wrote to everyone, including Vidhu, revealing sensitive details about how deeply I was impacted by the harsh personal attacks and online hate. This was the first time I had shared such intimate details about myself in full trust and hope that they would understand my health condition. I specified that I was making immediate amends for lapses that may have occurred on my part during that period," says Parvathy in her post.
However, Parvathy adds that the project did not work out due to time constraints and that she was under the impression that the issue had been solved amicably.
"Knowing her need to start filming soon, I informed her that it did not look practical as it would be difficult to find the time for me to prepare for a role of a stand-up comedian. Since she was insistent that I give it another thought I agreed, so I agreed to revert with a final decision within ten days. As agreed, in the next few days I made a phone call and informed her that I would not be able to do the project. She shared that she understands my decision and updated me on the developments on the project when I enquired. As we hung up, we wished each other well,‚ÄĚ she says.
Though Parvathy had said no, Vidhu sent her the screenplay draft by e-mail. In about a month, the poster of Stand Up with Nimisha in the lead released, the actor says. Parvathy also refers to an interview that Vidhu had given after Stand Up released, in which the filmmaker had spoken about Parvathy working with Siddique despite the actor being a Dileep supporter and whose name had come up during the #MeToo movement.
"Though in the interviews, Vidhu had spoken about how women like her and I were forced to often work with detractors. The description title of the interview was misleading to sound accusatory. On December 14th, 2019, I called Vidhu to talk about this and we had a friendly chat. When I shared my concern she told me that she was misquoted to make the headline clickbaity. She asked me to listen to the contents of the interview and I assured her that I had. However, I asked her if she could request the respective journalist to avoid descriptions that could seem like pitting us against each other which she agreed to follow up on. I also enquired how she was holding up and I remember saying all that matters is that the movie gets a good run. The conversation over the phone ended with a promise to meet soon. The warm and friendly tone of this entire conversation somehow was not reflected in her resignation letter," says Parvathy.
Acknowledging that Vidhu's journey to make Stand Up was a tough one, Parvathy says that as someone who had no godfather or godmother in the industry, she is quite aware of the struggle. She further adds that being part of the WCC had made her more self-aware about her privileges.
"Being a part of the Collective and interacting with so many women has shown me what my privileges are, without taking away the fact that all of us had to traverse through difficult and painful paths. No matter how successful we are and the backgrounds we come from, we are relegated to the ‚ÄėSecond Sex‚Äô in this industry. Which is why I am distraught that one of our own, from whom I‚Äôve learned a lot, one who helped me immensely during a massive crisis, spoke of the need to stay within the Collective and help it grow, chose to allegate against me despite knowing much more than the rest of the world knows. I know Vidhu to be a very vocal, communicative person who voices her thoughts quite openly, so it hurts me that she did not speak to me about whatever issues she had with me," she says .
Stating that she was always grateful to filmmakers for giving her opportunities, Parvathy adds that the WCC has never restricted anyone's work choices.
"The truth is that not a single member in WCC has ever restricted, interrogated or harassed anyone when it came to professional choices. I know that the Collective has always initiated conversations, to know how to respond and support each other when we negotiate through our paths in the professional world," she writes.
The actor's statement ends with her asserting her belief in the WCC and its work.
"I believe that when the ‚ÄėTime‚Äôs Up‚Äô; when enough is enough, collectives will keep rising all over the world to direct the tide towards justice. WCC is one such political movement that is above and beyond any individual. I believe in its unrelenting, galvanizing and all-transcending power. I believe we are all here forging an extremely tough path ahead. My heart stays open and my mind, willing to learn and move forward together," she says.
Previously, the WCC issued a statement contradicting Vidhu's allegations against the organisation being "elitist" and questioning her for working with B Unnikrishnan, who had produced a film with Dileep, while giving a free pass to other members.
Read Parvathy's full post here: