By Prarthana Mitra
Malayalam actresses Geethu Mohandas, Rima Kallingal, Ramya Nambeesan and the victim of sexual assault quit AMMA (Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes) on Wednesday, following accused actor, Dileep’s inclusion back into the film body.
But they made sure they left with a bang, and not a whimper.
Let’s back up a bit
The celebrated Mollywood actor was ousted from the network in July last year. This was following his arrest due to his involvement in the kidnapping and sexual assault of a popular Malayalam actress. With over 130 Malayalam films under his belt in a career spanning 24 years, the expulsion of the `Janapriya Nayakan’ (Popular Hero) came after much public furore.
Thus, Dileep’s return this Sunday comes as quite a surprise, that too just days after Southern superstar Mohanlal was appointed AMMA’s new president.
Here’s what happened
Vocally protesting against welcoming Dileep back into the fold, the victim immediately resigned saying, “It is meaningless to continue in this organisation.”
Fellow actor Remya Nambeesan remarked that the decision to accept him back has made it clear whose side AMMA wants to take. Lashing back at the association’s audacity to reinstate the actor without taking the general body agenda into account, Nambeesan also pointed out the body’s apathy towards the victim who too was part of the same body.
Geetu Mohandas who also resigned as a mark of protest, said that she should have done so much earlier.
“As a member of the panel, I had realised much earlier that to question the association from within would always be difficult. This association [wants] members who will fall in line and not question decisions of the leadership,” the actor said while insisting that the fight against AMMA’s gross injustice is far from over.
How long before #TimesUp?
Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) founding member Rima Kallingal said before quitting that, she hopes the coming generation will have the option to work with dignity and without compromises.
However, several other notable actresses have not raised their voice nor given up their privileged positions within the association, some of whom include WCC members Parvathy, Manju Warrier and Padmapriya. To add to the problem, when prominent, veteran and revered male actors like Mohanlal acquire controlling power over artists’ unions, they tend to use their clout to bring disgraced and tainted actors like Dileep into the fold.
The tide can change only when Mollywood’s patriarchal hegemony dissolves. By quitting AMMA in solidarity with the victim, they have asserted the professional woman’s bargaining power in a male-dominated industry. Not only has their move started a dialogue about standing up for what is right, but also underscored the need for the sisterhood to rally on their sides.
The time has come for us to question whether there is no place for women in Mollywood, as it openly contravenes a woman’s right to safety at workplace. Moreover, it also refuses to take collective action against men who openly abuse their power within the industry. It is unacceptable for these women to have to leave the film body that was made to protect artistes’ rights, and risk their careers when the perpetrators roam scot-free.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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