Over the last two days, most of the Tamil film fraternity has maintained a stoic silence over shocking allegations of sexual harassment made by filmmaker Leena Manimekalai against director Susi Ganeshan. But actor Siddharth who has been openly voicing his support for survivors who emerge from the Me Too movement, once against stood by the accuser on Tuesday, making it clear that he believed her. But a day later, he is facing the backlash for his efforts, after the accused director allegedly threatened his family.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Siddharth says, "Susi Ganesan spoke to my aged father on the phone and threatened us with dire consequences if I continue to stand by Leena. So I just want everyone to know that now more than ever... I Stand With #LeenaManimekalai. Stay strong and fight the good fight sister!"
On Sunday, Tamil filmmaker Leena put up a Facebook post naming director Susi Ganeshan. This was a follow up to a post she had put up in 2017 where she alleged that a director had attempted to sexually harass her under the pretext of dropping her home. She hadn't named the culprit back then but found the courage to do so now. Susi Ganeshan, meanwhile, responded to Leena's allegations on his Facebook page by calling her immoral. He wrote that it was she who abuses men for benefits. Media reports further claimed that he was filing a criminal case against. Leena took to Twitter to explain that it was not a simple process to file such a case in the first place.
Leena, however, dismissed his claims and said that she was not surprised by the alleged threats.
"I spoke to Siddharth this morning and we had a long chat. He promised me his support and was actually saying that he could receive threats. He, in fact, told me to be careful because Susi Ganeshan would use all his contacts in the police too if necessary," says Leena to TNM. "And just as he predicted, he has called and threatened the family. Nobody in my family has received any threats yet. But they are terrified that he will file a case against me," she adds.
Leena has been talking to concerned family members all day, who are worried about her safety.
"Siddharth told me that there are more people ready to lend their support. This is great but will there be an impact if they don't do it openly?" she asks. "Now is the time for industry stalwarts to speak up. Even if one big director lends his support, the entire game will change. Currently Susi Ganeshan is adopting slander to keep me quiet. He thinks if he questions my character, I will back down. But I won't because I am talking the truth. He is also afraid that if my voice is heard, more women will come out with allegations against him."