Malayalam movie Neelavelicham forms IC to report sexual harassment complaints on set

The Kerala High Court had directed Malayalam film production houses to form an Internal Committee (IC) as mandated by the POSH Act, earlier last month.
Rima Kallingal in Neelavelicham
Rima Kallingal in Neelavelicham
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The shooting of Aashiq Abu’s next project Neelavelicham, which is based on literary giant Vaikom Muhammad Basheer’s short story of the same name, commenced in Kannur on April 26. The movie features actors Tovino Thomas, Rima Kallingal, Roshan Mathew and Shine Tom Chacko in the lead roles. The team shared the announcement with fans through the film’s official social media handle. 

Along with the announcement, details about the Internal Committee (IC) to report incidents of sexual abuse at the workspace, were also shared by the makers. Costume designer Sameera Saneesh is the presiding officer of the IC formed by team Neelavelicham, while actor Devaki Bhaagi, Gayathri Babu, and Hrishikesh Bhaskaran are members of the committee. Maya Krishnan is also part of the IC as an external member. “Please contact any member of the ICC formed under the POSH act foundation to report any sort of sexual abuse at your workplace,” reads the poster shared by team Neelavelicham on its social media handles on April 26. 

Aashiq Abu produces films under the banner OPM and OPM Dream Mill Cinemas. In fact, his other films viz. Halal Love Story (2020), Aarkkariyam (2021), Aanum Pennum (2021), Bheemante Vazhi (2021), and Naaradan (2022) have all had ICs set up on the film set. 

The Kerala High Court had directed Malayalam film production houses to form an Internal Committee as mandated by the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, earlier last month. The order by the court came after it heard a public interest litigation filed by the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC), who had pleaded that a grievance redressal mechanism needs to be established in the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) and in other organisations like the Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA).

WCC was formed after the sexual assault case of 2017, in which actor Dileep is one of the accused. WCC, which has been at the forefront in the fight against gender disparity in Malayalam cinema, filed a petition in October 2018 asking for ICs to be set up in Malayalam movie organisations as per the POSH Act. 

The makers of 1744 White Alto announced in February 2022 that an IC has been formed to report sexual harassment cases on the set. When the shoot commenced in February, the producers shared with the cast and crew the code of conduct to be read and practised during the making of the film. A copy of this document was shared by social media users, who welcomed the move. The three women producers of the 2019 film Uyare, which starred actor Parvathy Thiruvothu in the lead, have also formed an IC at their production house SCube Films. Director and producer Aashiq Abu also had an IC in his film sets from the time of making Virus, which came out in 2019. 

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