The gender disparity and treatment of women actors in the Malayalam film industry is a subject that has seen much discussion over the past few months.
While the abduction and alleged sexual assault of a prominent woman actor in February this year was indeed shocking to even people from the industry, of late, there have been a series of complaints from women in the Mollywood, complaining of sexual exploitation, with two complaints being filed in just the last week.
On Thursday, the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) extended their support to the two women actors who have raised complaints of exploitation recently, without naming them.
In a Facebook post, the WCC said, "A number of recent complaints raised by women working in the Malayalam cinema industry shed light on how the work culture of the industry treats women and brings out the depth of the crimes against women.”
The first complaint they were referring to was filed by Meghna Nair, a debutant actor who went against the director and producer of Honey Bee 2: Celebrations. She accused Jean Paul Lal and Lal Media of not paying her remuneration, and for using a body double in a scene without her consent.
The second complaint was filed by another woman actor agaunst a production associate, who allegedly leaked her private images on social media and subsequently blackmailed her.
These two cases have now led to WCC coming out with a statement, calling out the feudal nature of the film industry.
Commenting on Meghna Nair's case, where she sued the production house and the director of the film, WCC said, “It is basic work ethics to let an artist know that a particular scene - where the female body is exposed - is shot using a body double. That should only be done with the consent and knowledge of the artiste, and should be put down in the contract too.”
“Now, these contracts are being made according to the convenience of the producers. The process of making the contracts needs to be reconstituted to include factors like remuneration, work timings, use of body double, etc., from the perspective of the women. However, this complaint (Meghna Nair's) has revealed that a large number of technicians, including the actors, are working without proper contracts," the post said.
When the case was first reported, director Lal had rubbished Meghna's claims and maintained that the actor was not to be paid, since she did not complete the shoot.
"The fact that the woman actor who protested was not given remuneration, and that this was declared in the public with that much audacity, only points to the feudal nature of the film industry," WCC said.
On the case of a woman actor who filed a police complaint against Kiran Kumar, a production associate for leaking her private images, WCC said, "To body shame our colleague and blackmail her is heinous and condemnable. These two instances show the work culture of the industry and the lack of gender equality. Only if we address these issues, can we move forward as a healthy work group."
Women have now begun to argue against the forces that suppressed their dissent and protests, WCC said. The collective also added that the recent events are proof that WCC's demand to properly define cinema as a work space and form cells where women can raise sexual harassment complaints, is valid and a much needed move.
"We (WCC members) are with the women who have started their fight for justice," they said.
Read the full post here: