A few film industries in India are slowly waking up to allegations of sexual harassment and assault, which were brought to the fore when the #MeToo movement gained momentum recently. While some actors have walked out of film projects involving names of those who have been called out by survivors, 11 women filmmakers have vowed not to work with proven sex offenders in Bollywood. Both Tamil and Telugu cinema has announced a panel to look at allegations, while Kannada cinema had already been in the process of setting up an Internal Complaints Committee. But, it looks like the Malayalam film industryâ€™s top names are not ready to give up their misogynistic attitude and instead continue to blatantly support a prime accused in a sexual assault case, which is under trial.
Case in point: In a press meet called by Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) secretary Siddique on Monday, the actor accused Akshay Kumar and Aamir Khan of quitting films based on mere allegations against the directors they were working with.
At WCC press meet on Saturday, a few members had pointed out how members in other film fraternities had reacted when one of their own was accused of sexual harassment.
With the help of some recent examples or cases that emerged in the entertainment industry, Actor Rima Kallingal elucidated the stark contrast between how AMMA and other film organisations are reacting to sexual allegations.
â€śAamir Khan and Kiran Rao stepped away from a film, saying they did not want to work with someone who has been accused. Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) dropped Rajat Kapoorâ€™s film (Kadakh), Amazon Prime Video terminated the deal with AIB for existing and upcoming shows. Akshay Kumar stopped the shoot of Sajid Khanâ€™s Housefull 4; the production house Phantom Films was dismantled when there were allegations against one of its four founders. But look what is happening in our industry. Soon after Dileep was released, B Unnikrishnan announced a movie with him,â€ť she said.
Director Anjali Menon added that when writer-producer Vinta Nanda accused actor Alok Nath of rape, â€śCine and TV Artists Association (CINTAA) gave a show cause notice to the actor and extended support to the survivor, who is not a member of the film body. Thatâ€™s how they reacted.â€ť
While filmmakers and actors are walking away from sexual offenders, the Malayalam film industry is giving the actor, who has been accused and arrested for the sexual assault of a fellow actor, a red carpet welcome. And this, according to AMMA secretary Siddique, is the right way to go about it.
â€śThey wanted Dileep banned from movies. Who has the rights to deny a person his profession based on allegations?â€ť he asked.
He then went on to address what Rima and Anjali pointed out at the press meet on Saturday. â€śThey gave examples of Akshay Kumar and Aamir Khan. They said the actors decided to walk out of movies. But what Akshay Kumar and Aamir Khan did was wrong. How could they do so based on allegations?â€ť he asked.
He adds, â€śLetâ€™s say, on the other hand, if Akshay Kumar and Aamir Khan were accused of sexual harassment, do you think they would have walked out of the said projects?â€ť
Siddique further brushed aside the two cases and said, â€śWe will not accept that (Akshay Kumar and Aamir Khan quitting films) as an example and deny Dileep job opportunities.â€ť
Incidentally, the survivor of the sexual assault case in February 2017, in her resignation letter to AMMA had stated that Dileep took away a lot of job opportunities from her. â€śWhen I complained to AMMA, no serious measures were taken then,â€ť stated the survivor, adding, â€śWhen I recently had a bad experience, the organisation, of which I am also a part of, went on to protect him,â€ť she said.