For anyone who asks why there's the need for a Women in Cinema Collective, the events of the past few days are evidence enough.
The misogyny in the Malayalam film industry has been apparent ever since a prominent woman actor was assaulted earlier this year. From victim blaming to blatantly throwing their weight behind actor Dileep, who stands accused of being the mastermind behind the conspiracy which allegedly led to the attack, the industry has displayed its patriarchal colours. Some of its distinguished members have even appropriated the name of the campaign 'Avalkoppam' and changed it to 'Avanodoppam', to show their support to Dileep.
And now, it is actor Parvathy who has become the target for saying that she was disappointed by the Mammootty film Kasaba, which had several misogynistic dialogues.
The actor, who recently won the prestigious Silver Peacock Award at the IFFI for Take Off, was speaking on a panel that discussed the representation of women on screen at the International Film Festival of Kerala. Although Parvathy did not mention Kasaba initially when she was making her comments, she was encouraged by director Geethu Mohandas to do so. Following news reports about the event, Parvathy has been facing a steady stream of trolls - not just random members of the public but industry insiders.
Actor Siddique who was also part of Kasaba, put up a still from the film in which he can be seen along with Mammootty, with a smiley. The post saw innumerable comments applauding his response, which was seen as a "shot" to Parvathy.
Writer and director Vyasan KP went as far as to call Parvathy's ideas "fascist" and said that her comments were similar to the objections raised against films like S Durga and Padmavati.
Last we checked, Parvathy hadn't called for a ban on any film or offered a reward to behead anyone. All she'd said was that she was disappointed by the misogynistic dialogues in the film - let's remind ourselves that this is a film where a police officer, played by Mammootty, offers to "fuck" his superior officer so hard that she'd find it difficult to walk for a week. He also threatens to hurt a woman so badly that he could make her miss her menstrual cycle. Many of these dialogues were received with applause and cheers from the men in the audience.
There can be no doubt about the mindset of the men who made a stellar film like this (which, by the way, was panned by critics and also had the Kerala Women's Commission issue a notice to the actor, director and producer for its misogyny), looking at the response of the makers.
Director Nithin Renji Panicker appears to be under the impression that Parvathy had made her comments for "publicity". On the film's official page, he says, "There is no need to discuss a movie that was released a year ago. People know that this is an effort to become popular by shaking a big tree. I don't want to react. Like a large section, I believe that this actor's (Parvathy's) words don't have the standard required to elicit a reaction. Also, I think she is not an individual who deserves a response."
The producer, Joby George, has said, "If Geethu aunty and Parvathy aunty tell me the dates of their birthday, I will show Kasaba in full house as my birthday gift."
The sheer contempt in the words of these men towards a woman actor who has just won an international award for a Malayalam film is breathtaking. And all for expressing an opinion that many share about the same film. Besides, Parvathy was making her comments on a very relevant platform - one where the representation of women on screen was being discussed - and was not randomly talking about the film as is being portrayed.
Should the women on the panel have pretended that there is no misogyny whatsoever in Malayalam films? Should they have only spoken of films in which no big superstar had acted? Or should they have just sat like pretty dolls with no voice?
While the makers of Kasaba are well within their rights to defend the film and to disagree with Parvathy's views, the disrespectful way in which they've done so speaks volumes about the misogyny that they harbour. It's no big surprise that they make films like Kasaba which reflect the contempt that they share towards women.
Sorry "uncles", you may twirl your moustache and flex your muscles as much as you want but you cannot silence the women around you so easily any more.