Eight years after she got saddled with a caste surname that “was never hers”, actor Parvathy has announced that she does not want people calling her by names that journalists made up for her. And she does it in style.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday night, Parvathy, went about setting the record straight on her name, starting with her name on official records and how some bungling journalists added the “Menon” because they did not bother to ask her for it. Later, she says, the mistake was perpetuated until it became a fact.
As usual, the internet went berserk, earning her bouquets and brickbats in somewhat equal measure. Some lauded her for refusing to let her name be a tool of discrimination while others called her a PR-hungry actor who had timed the announcement with the release of her new movie.
And to those who said ‘why now?’ Parvathy said that she had been trying to get her name back for eight years.
In her Facebook post, Parvathy said her according to her official records she never had a surname.
“I have never had a surname in any of my official documents except my birth certificate. My birth certificate holds the name- Parvathy Thiruvothu Kottuvatta. (Thiruvothu Kottuvatta being the title of my maternal family house) Through a few transfer certificate errors during my schooling period, I lost that surname. Hence, from my tenth grade CBSE book, my driving license, my voters card to my passport (till date) only holds the name- Parvathy,” she said in her post.
She said that the whole affair started in 2007, just after the release of her first Kannada movie, when a reporter of a local newspaper interviewed her.
“He did not deem it important to cross check with me whether or not I have surname and, since I am a 'malayalikutty', took the liberty to baptise me with Menon.”
And sarcastically, she added: “There. Job done. To that gentleman, I owe my struggle. Thank you for doing a stand up job as a journalist!”
With some more panache, she added some trivia: that the first time her name had appeared in a magazine, she had been called Pooja. “That was the name of the character I played in the movie 'Notebook' and that reporter hadn't even bothered to find out what the actor's name was. Once again, who wants to check with a newcomer girl! why would a journalist do that?! :-I . Anyway.” she added.
Then, she talked about recent reports in the media with headlines like, “Parvathy disowns her caste name”. She said that despite consistent efforts to get her name corrected in the media, her requests had fallen on deaf ears.
Addressing the casteism in a surname like Menon, Parvathy said:
“I am not the religion or the caste I was born into, alone. I am also not my gender or my skin colour, alone. I believe that I am a bit of everything and so are [sic] everyone else. I also do not believe that any of these aspects are of any value in defining how well I live or how qualified I am at work,” Parvathy asserted.
“I wish to wash that poison off our minds as we go forward and retain what is in our culture that supports a healthy co-existence. So, YES. It pricked me even more when I was given a caste name as a surname, in this day and age where we can spot discrimination pretty much everywhere,” she added.
Parvathy is not the only on to have gotten in a soup over a name. Over a year ago, Malayalam actor Prithviraj also found himself defending his daughter’s name.
In October 2014, people accused the actor and his wife for supporting the notion of caste after they decided to add the surname “Menon” to their daughter’s name - Alankrita Menon Prithviraj.
Prithviraj later clarified that the he wanted his wife’s name Supriya in the title before his name. Since the sequence did not sound right they decided to use her surname instead.
He had said: “MENON for me is JUST a name and has no significance whatsoever with respect to caste, religion or beliefs.”