Multiple women have come forward with their stories of sexual harassment or assault. Several noted personalities have been “outed” in India’s ‘MeToo’ storm which has struck many major industries, notably film and media. While some have voiced their opinion on the movement, many directors from the film industry have stayed silent. Even so, Tamil film directors Vetrimaaran and Jananthan, along with writer Jeyamohan, have spoken out in support of the women who have detailed their experiences of harassment in the industry.
“When someone comes out in the open and says this has happened to me, you don’t say can you prove it? You don’t question the victims, when you actually should be questioning the perpetrators,” director Vetrimaaran told TNM. “Just because the accused is a popular figure we can’t brush off the same.” He notes that it is difficult for victims to come forward and express that they’ve been harassed in such a manner and that when they do, it is one’s responsibility to believe them.
Echoing his opinion is another director, Jananathan. “I didn’t know at the time when the incident occurred that Leena was subject to something. When she did post on Facebook about the incident, I asked her who the director was and she then named Susi Ganesan as the perpetrator,” he says speaking about the recent allegations against director Susi Ganesan by filmmaker Leena Manimekalai. “Leena had mentioned his name to me a year ago, but she didn’t mention his name publicly at the time. Now that many Me Too stories have come out, she has found it in herself to name him now,” he said.
While several directors and producers have not spoken out on the issue, Jananathan says that people should not remain silent, at least when questioned.
Writer Jeyamohan also spoke up about Leena Manimekalai and the incident that she’d experienced. “According to me this movement has alerted society to the extent of this problem. It’s shocking to see how many people are coming forward with their stories. Whenever these stories come out, everyone begins to gossip about the woman who expresses what she has gone through. This is the attitude of society and we are only now starting to protest against such a mindset,” he told TNM, "Many of the men in the field also tend to hesitate to speak up against such things because they think about the fact that they'll be working with these people in the future. This keeps them from taking such a direct stand."
"The male members of the film fraternity should definitely come forward and voice their support for victims," adds Jananathan."