A day ago, Malayalam actor Alencier was named by a woman when she wrote a blog post in connection with the Me Too movement. She wrote in detail about the instances where he allegedly harassed her, while they worked together in a film. Today the woman, a theatre and film actor from Kerala, has revealed her identity through a Facebook video. Divya Gopinath, who has worked in the critically acclaimed movie Ayaal Sassi, joined the #MeToo movement with her allegations against Alencier.
“I had immense respect for this artist, until I met him personally. His progressive and liberal approaches to what is happening around us is just a mask of his perverted self,” Divya had written on the blog, protestingindia.wordpress.com. She goes on to describe several incidents, the first of which includes Alencier ogling at her breasts at a lunch table, walking into her room more than once, and once, going to the extent of getting under the bed sheets while she was sleeping.
For several people in Kerala, who knew Alencier not only as a brilliant actor, but also as an activist who reacted to quite a few social issues through impromptu street plays and other unique ways, the allegation has come as a shock. Following several comments and abuses, questioning the authenticity of her claims, Divya decided to reveal her identity on Tuesday.
Finally, managed to talk to my parents. They will stand rock solid with me. Time to end anonymity. The actress who wrote this letter to India Protests is me. https://twitter.com/protestingindia/status/1051729867644030976Posted by Divya Gopinath on Tuesday, October 16, 2018
In the video, Divya expresses her disappointment at the kind of response that came for the blog post. "When a woman decides to share her experience, and without naming herself, it is sad that people come forward to abuse her and call her a fraud,” she says.
Many questioned her decision to stay in the film industry despite facing harassment. Divya, who has a Masters degree in Commerce, has been a theatre artiste from a young age. “I have a deep connection to it, the pleasure I get from acting, and from completing a character is unparalleled. I am working in the field which gives me the most satisfaction,” Divya says.
She has suffered, she says. But a lot of good, strong men have supported her and helped her to continue working on that set where Alencier allegedly misbehaved.
While speaking, Divya breaks down in the video.
Speaking about the actor assault case that happened in Kochi one and a half years ago, Divya says, “In the ongoing case, the difference in the kind of treatment that is meted out to the accused and the survivor, who has years of experience in the industry, is glaringly different. In such a situation, how can an artiste like me, who is only a few films old and is not even a member of the organisation, expect to seek justice? Nobody has fed any thoughts into my mind. I am old enough to think for myself and I do not believe in such an organisation anymore,” referring to the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes or AMMA.
Divya has now made a complaint to the Women in Cinema Collective and presented the case in front of the Justice Hema Commission. “Only after filing a complaint did I realise that Alencier has been a regular offender and has behaved inappropriately with various women on multiple sets. The harassment was not the result of any ‘mental trauma’ he was undergoing then, like he claimed.”
With the #MeToo movement picking up pace on social media, Divya felt it was the right time to expose Alencier.
“When I wrote it (the blog) anonymously people started commenting that this was a lie and that it was WCC propaganda. I did inform some of the top people in WCC. They asked me if they should make him apologise. I told them that would have been enough (at first when I thought it was just me). But not any longer as I have realised that he had harassed other women,” Divya says.
“He is a man who wears a mask of being someone who questions bad things in society,” Divya goes on to say, “I have no intention of spoiling his family life or depriving him of chances in movies. This is not one person's problem. You may restrict your family members from entering this industry. This could happen to men too. But it is your duty to help create safe spaces. Adore your superstars, but you need to know that everything they do is not right.”
Divya ends with an appeal that women are not lying, and not to disbelieve WCC and others.