Weeks after the MeToo movement gained new ground in India with women in the media and entertainment industry speaking up against their alleged sexual harassers, music composer AR Rahman has broken his silence on the movement, coming out in support of the women.
Tweeting late on Monday, the music composer wrote, “Been observing the #metoo movement… Some of the names have shocked me... both the victims and their perpetrators… I would love to see our industry become cleaner and respectful of women… More power to all the victims coming forward!!”
Rahman’s statement comes weeks after his long-time collaborator and Tamil lyricist Vairamuthu was accused of predatory behaviour by multiple women who had worked with him, including popular singer Chinmayi. While most of the Tamil film and entertainment industry has been silent on the issue, calls continued to grow for the renowned composer to speak up.
Rahman further said that he, along with his team, were committed to “creating an environment where everyone finds a safe creative space to bring their best, evolve and succeed.”
Rahman who has worked closely with Chinmayi, did not say anything about her allegations. Like most men who have offered their support to the movement, Rahman too cautioned against its misuse.
“Social media offers great freedom for victims to speak up, however we should be careful in creating a new internet justice system, in case it’s misused,” he wrote.
Earlier on Monday, singer and music composer AR Raihanah, who is also AR Rahman's sister, admitted that Vairamuthu does have a "reputation" in the industry.
Speaking to TNM, AR Raihanah said that while she has heard of several accounts about Vairamuthu's behaviour, she herself has not faced any such harassment.
On October 8, journalist Sandhya Menon shared screenshots of an anonymous allegation about how Vairamuthu had assaulted a woman, who was 18 years of age when she had gone to the poet’s residence-cum-office to work on a project.
A day later, singer Chinmayi came forward with her own experience. She detailed how she had allegedly been asked by the organiser of a programme in Switzerland to "cooperate" with Vairamuthu. She was reportedly asked to visit him in a hotel in Lucerne. When she refused and demanded that they (Chinmayi and her mother) return to India, she was supposedly told that her career was over. Chinmayi says that the incident took place in 2005 or 2006.
A US-based artist, Sindhuja Rajaram and a singer-anchor from Tamil Nadu also came forward with their account of alleged sexual misconduct against the lyricist, in addition to multiple women who have chosen to remain anonymous.
Vairamuthu, who has refuted the allegations, has asked the survivors to file cases against him.
“I am waiting to face it. I have been in deep discussion with senior lawyers and intellectuals over the past week. I have gathered unshakeable evidence. You can file a case,” he had said in a video released to the press on October 14.