The Malayalam film industry is going through a period of churn, with issues like sexism, misogyny and gender-based violence receiving unprecedented attention.
Following the sexual assault of a prominent woman actor in February last year, several members have spoken up about sexual harassment at the workplace and also how women are represented on screen.
The first male actor to openly admit that he had promoted misogyny in his films was Prithviraj, a close friend of the survivor. And now, actor, director and writer Renji Panicker has also echoed his thoughts.
In an interview given to Times of India, Renji Panicker has expressed regret for penning sexist and casteist dialogues. Asked about his film The King, which has Mammootty putting down a woman, Renji said, "I feel I shouldn't have written it. When I wrote it, I never thought of belittling women or even degrading the gender, it was just contextual for the film. Those who clapped for those lines have later found it disturbing. If I knew that what I was writing based on a situation will have a different interpretation in the future, I wouldn't have written that. Definitely I regret it."
Adding that if a woman watching the film had felt uncomfortable, it was his mistake, Renji Panicker also clarified that this was not his intention. In the same interview, Renji Panicker acknowledged that films were being looked at much more closely now than ever before and that he was more careful about what he was writing.
Previously, writers Bobby and Sanjay had come out in support of actor Parvathy, who was viciously abused on social media for her comments on the Mammootty film Kasaba. Incidentally, the film was directed by Renji Panicker's son, Nithin.
In an open letter titled Adaminte Vaariyellu (Adam's Rib), the two writers said, "Though it was just one movie that you (Parvathy) named, we are aware that your criticism was directed against a lot of movies. Maybe the movies we have written too. Here we were, peacefully going about our business and now you have forced us to rethink what we write; reminded us to reconsider from a womanâ€™s perspective and pushed us into self-analysis and critical soul-searching."