#MeToo: CPM MLA-cum-actor Mukesh accused of misconduct

#MeToo: CPM MLA-cum-actor Mukesh accused of misconduct

The #MeToo campaign which continues to embolden women to expose sexual harassment across workspaces on Tuesday hit Malayalam movie industry with popular actor and CPM MLA Mukesh being named by a casting director for alleged misconduct in a Chennai hotel, 19-years ago.

Tess Joseph, a Mumbai-based casting director for films, tweeted that Mukesh, during the shoot of a television game show he hosted, called her into his room “multiple times” and had her room shifted next to his on the next schedule.

She said it was her boss Derek O’Brien, now an All India Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha member, who helped her leave the shoot. “My then boss @derekobrienmp spoke to me for an hour & got me out on the next flight. 19 years on thank you Derek,” she tweeted.

Tess said she was 20 years old when the incident happened. She was the only woman in the crew and one night, when the calls were “never-ending”, she had to stay in a colleague’s room, Tess tweeted.

Tess also alleged that staff of the hotel she stayed in explained to her “nonchalantly” that her room was changed on the actor’s directions. “I want to say this to every hotel, every crew member who have allowed and been party to enabling predators – you are a huge part of this,” she tweeted.

Protests erupt

Mukesh, a CPM MLA who represents Kollam, denied the allegation. Speaking with a TV channel, the 61-year-old legislator said he could not remember the incident. The allegation set off protests in the MLA’s constituency.

Activists of the Opposition Congress party and members of the BJP’s women’s wing, Mahila Morcha, staged protests in Kollam and demanded the legislator’s resignation. Tess, speaking to Malayalam TV channels, said she did not want the issue “politicised”.

An actor known for his comic lead roles, Mukesh had a string of big box-office winners in the 1990s. Tess Joseph has worked in acclaimed international films including LionLife of PiThe Namesake and The Darjeeling Limited.