#Metoo: Anjali Menon questions Mollywood's apathy

Anjali Menon

Acclaimed filmmaker Anjali Menon welcomed the stand taken by the Hindi film industry on the issue of sexual harassment and wondered why the industry in Kerala where a popular woman actor was sexually assaulted last year, failed to take a stand.

The ‘Me Too’ movement, in its latest Indian turn, has exposed high-profile journalists, actors and filmmakers as sexual aggressors. In the wake of accounts of rape and sexual harassment from the Hindi film industry, prominent industry professionals have extended support to the survivors and distanced themselves from the accused. 

The February 2017 assault on a woman actor in Kerala led to the arrest of key accused Sunilkumar aka Pulsar Suni and later, popular actor Dileep on charges of conspiracy. Dileep, after being remanded for 85 days, was released on bail and trial on the case is yet to commence. The Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes has been criticised for failing to back the survivor and for maintaining that it would support Dileep till the courts pronounce him guilty. Its position on the issue also set off a rebellion by woman members; talks for consensus regarding issues of gender disparity in the film industry haven’t made progress.

In a blog post published on Thursday, Menon, the writer-director of films including Bangalore Days and Koode, talked about the “horrific” experience of TV writer-producer Vinta Nanda (she has accused veteran actor Alok Nath of having raped her 19 years ago) and how it has made the film industry in Mumbai wake up to reality. TV networks and organisers of film festivals are severing links with the alleged perpetrator. “Companies like Phantom Films are shutting down to avoid working with alleged perpetrators. Actors like Aamir Khan are walking out of films engaging alleged perpetrators,” she said in her post. Menon said these actions showed that the Hindi film industry is taking a stand – that such violations are not acceptable.

Menon said the assaulted actor had filed a police complaint after the incident and was going ahead with the legal proceedings, but industry bodies had failed to take proactive action. “Kerala is home-ground to many powerful film bodies, many of whom have shown strong solidarity with one another. Not to forget powerful actors and powerful writers and makers whose work has won international acclaim from the world. Yet, where is the proactive action supporting the survivors? This too is a stand. A highly disturbing one,” she wrote.

 

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#Metoo: Anjali Menon questions Mollywood's apathy

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