“How do you feel about the transition of the audience from [viewing you as a] ‘hated feminist’ to ‘feminichi love’?”
When this question was asked by one of the audience members at the event on ‘Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) in conversation with Professor Laura Mulvey (a feminist film theorist)’ to actor Parvathy Thiruvothu, it became the most applauded question of the evening.
Parvathy, along with WCC members like Beena Paul, Rima Kallingal, and Anjali Menon, among others, was speaking at the panel that was part of a two-day international seminar on ‘Gender, Body and Discourse’, held at Sacred Hearts College in Kochi.
“It was the collective attitude of ‘never give up’; it was a matter of not giving up persistence. It was a matter of individual dignity, and we just started valuing that more,” Parvathy said, responding to the question.
She also referred to the online abuse and bullying she received two years ago after she called out the misogyny in the Malayalam film industry during an international film festival in December 2017. “After a week or so into the cyber-attacks (sic), I understood that the issue is not because I, Parvathy, raised the question. It was because a woman asked the question. That realisation is what made me angrier and made me want to hold people accountable,” Parvathy said.
Now, two years since, the same social media which cyber-bullied the actor calling her a ‘hated feminist’, has given her a tag of ‘feminichi love’ or a loved feminist.
Parvathy added that after February 2017, nothing was the same again. It was in February 2017, that a leading female actor from Malayalam film industry was abducted and sexually assaulted in a moving vehicle.
“After what happened to our friend back in February 2017, we knew life before the incident was a no-go. Though we did not know what was ahead, we knew for sure, the past was a strict no,” said Parvathy.
Meanwhile, talking to the WCC panelists, Laura Mulvey, the British film theorist, who wrote the popular essay ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ back in the 1970’s said that nothing much has changed in the male-dominated film industry.
“Back in the 70’s we used to say that by the year 2000, half of the people behind camera’s will be women. But that has yet not happened,” Laura said.