Singer and dubbing artist Chinmayi Sripaada, who has been denied opportunities in Kollywood after she accused lyricist Vairamuthu of being a sexual predator in the #MeToo movement, said that if she had been treated better when she spoke up, several other victims would have called out Vairamuthu as well. Chinmayi was speaking at the Hyderabad Literary Festival on Friday, in a session titled â€˜#MeToo: The Way Forwardâ€™. The panel included Sandhya Menon, one of women leading the movement on Twitter, and Shutapa Paul, one of the women who accused former central minister MJ Akbar of sexual harassment.
The singer, who enjoyed incredible success with her previous film 96' in which she dubbed for Trisha as well as sang all the songs, lamented that when she named Vairamuthu, the discourse in Tamil Nadu took an ugly turn as it became a caste and political issue. "People said that I was paid by the BJP to name Vairamuthu because of my caste identity. People caste profiled the women who were speaking versus the harassers we were being named."
"An issue of him groping me, became an issue of 'you belonging to this caste, outing a poor, pitiful, great man of great talent'," Chinmayi said, "I have been called a prostitute at least 15 times a day."
Chinmayi also said that she was scared to call out Vairamuthu because of his political clout and the influence he has in the industry.
Chinmayi's ordeal of sexual harassment was first shared by Sandhya Menon on Twitter and her identity was concealed. Shortly after, Chinmayi came out in the open, and named Vairamuthu as her harasser. Along with her, eight other women had accused Vairamuthu. The singer said that apart from these women, several others had also been sexually harassed by Vairamuthu.
"Many women shared their stories with me saying that they do not have the guts to name Vairamuthu. All these victims took note of how I was treated. If I was treated at least 20 or 30% better, several other women would have come out speaking against Vairamuthu in public," she said.
She said, "I keep getting friendly warnings about my physical safety. I don't know what am I staring at in the future."
Following her allegations, the South Indian Cine and Television Artistes and Dubbing Union headed by Radha Ravi, removed her from the union depriving her of work. The Union has asked her to apologise and demanded that she pay Rs 1.5 lakh to be reinstated. An unofficial ban continues against her in singing.