The Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) called for a press meet in Kochi on Saturday to express their deep disappointment with how the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) has conducted itself.
WCC members Parvathy, Revathy, Padmapriya, Anjali Menon, Beena Paul, Rima Kallingal, Remya Nambeesan, and Sajitha Madathil were present at the press meet. Most of them were dressed in black as a sign of protest.
The press meet was called after AMMA failed to keep its promise of standing by the survivor and taking any concrete action towards improving the safety of women in its fold. Most importantly, the WCC alleged that AMMA was being evasive about its decision to reinstate Dileep, who stands accused of being the mastermind behind the plot to abduct and assault a Malayalam actor in February last year.
The WCC said that they had lost their faith in the AMMA executive council. The statement comes after the WCC members met with AMMA on August 7, in what was considered to be a "productive" meeting. However, the WCC charged that AMMA had let them down by its inaction since then.
Parvathy said that the AMMA Eexcutive Council (EC) had incessantly interrupted the WCC members when they had tried to speak at their August 7 meeting for nearly 40 minutes. She also said that they received legal counsel from Vrinda Grover on how Dileep could be suspended from AMMA. However, the AMMA EC was not interested in doing so and wanted to seek more "advice". At the August 7 meeting, president Mohanlal had supposedly been in a big hurry to wrap up the proceedings because he had some other "important" event to go for.
"When Thilakan was thrown out they did not call any GB (General Body meeting). They keep changing their versions. The memory of a young woman running to me and begging me to rescue her many years ago, is etched in my memory. I don't want that repeated. We want safe spaces," said Revathy.
Parvathy said that it was only after a voice note by the survivor was played that the AMMA EC listened to them.
"There was pindrop silence after that was played," Revathy added. She also spoke about how the AMMA EC members had nitpicked and laid down conditions all the way through the meeting, almost making the WCC plead with them. Padmapriya pointed out that while the EC had been in a hurry to take back Dileep, who is accused of plotting the abduction and rape of their colleague, into AMMA, they showed no interest in inviting the WCC members who had resigned in protest to join them once again.
The WCC members said that AMMA did not want them to speak to the press about the meeting. They further alleged that AMMA was only interested in pulling wool over the eyes of the public.
"What is happening there is enactment of various dramas. We have reached a point where none of us want to rely on that organisation," said Remya.
"They have cheated us. They have also tried to cheat the public. Forget the illegal stuff EC members have done, every single act of theirs has been against the survivor," an angry Padmapriya slammed AMMA.
"They pretended to be listening to us but they were not. When we asked them what they did for the survivor, they told us they filed a petition on her behalf. That petition was against her interests and it is even more worrying that an EC member and lawyer advised them on it," added Parvathy.
The press release given by the WCC points out that the EC members had indulged in "victim shaming, displaying utter disregard to the law of the land, taking actions that will influence the criminal case in question and constantly showing bias against the survivor. This shows that AMMA is against the interest of women and is not a safe space to discuss HER issues."
Stating that AMMA had left them with "fallen heroes" who had failed to stand up for what is right, the WCC has unequivocally condemned the conduct of the organisation. However, making it clear that they will not resign from AMMA, Parvathy said that the next step was to keep exposing the leadership of AMMA. "We will take away the masks. They pretend it is a happy family, it isn't," she said.
"We need more responsible people who can think for everyone's good to become leaders of AMMA," said Revathy.