Tamil poet and lyricist Vairamuthu announced that he is refusing the prestigious ONV Award conferred on him recently. However, the award is yet to be presented to the poet. His announcement comes a day after the ONV Cultural Academy said that it was reconsidering the award conferred on him after many pointed out how several women had accused him of sexual harassment and misconduct.
In a press statement on Saturday, Vairamuthu said that he came to know that the award was being reconsidered due to the interference of a few people who have a grudge with him. “I wonder if this will insult me and poet ONV Kurup. I think that the learned jury should not be pushed into a sticky situation. Hence, I would like to avoid receiving the award in between so many controversies,” he said.
Adding that he is being ‘extremely truthful’ and that there is no need to test his truthfulness, he said that he is returning the award and donating the prize money of Rs 3 lakh to Kerala Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund. “As a token of my love towards the people of Kerala and the state, I also donate (an additional) Rs 2 lakh as my share to the Kerala Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund, in my individual capacity,” he added.
The ONV Cultural Academy announced Vairamuthu as this year’s recipient of the ONV Literary Award a few days ago. The announcement met with severe backlash, mainly from several prominent women actors and celebrities, who slammed the Academy’s decision to award a man who has been named by multiple women in their Me Too accounts. Actors Parvathy, Rima Kallingal, Geetu Mohandas, director Anjali Menon were among the prominent personalities who panned the Academy for providing a platform to Vairamuthu.
After widespread criticism, the Academy, on Friday, announced that it will reconsider its decision. ONV Cultural Academy’s jury includes Malayalam University Vice Chancellor Anil Vallathol, Poet Alankode Leelakrishnan and Prabha Varma.
Although Vairamuthu claimed that he was 'refusing' the ONV award, several called his statement nothing but an attempt to save face.
Let us remember, dear Tamil friends, there was a season when bold writers returned their awards. That's the courage it took to highlight an oppressive regime. Vairamuthu returning an award which he never received, is a face-saving measure. He'll never challenge the establishment pic.twitter.com/8gBWDe8VtQ— ʎɯɐsɐpuɐʞ ɐuǝǝɯ || stand with #palestine (@meenakandasamy) May 29, 2021