The founding members of the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC), an organisation formed in 2017 to look after the interests of female actors in the Malayalam film industry, came out all guns blazing on Saturday stating that they were ‘hurt, disrespected and very angry’ with the conduct of the leadership of AMMA (Association of Malayalam Movie Artists), the film body of Malayalam actors.
The WCC, formed in the backdrop of the sexual assault of a leading Malayalam actress in February 2017, had been involved in a dialogue with AMMA’s executive council over the subject of the membership of actor Dileep, who has been chargesheeted in the sexual assault case and accused of heinous crimes like gangrape, abduction and criminal conspiracy. While the actor was expelled from AMMA at the time of his arrest, the expulsion was later reportedly revoked by the larger general body of AMMA. The WCC has been questioning why AMMA took such a decision when the case’s trial was still underway. Read in Malayalam
“It’s such a big case of sexual violence and for some reason, they are trying to support the accused. They are doing victim-shaming. The leadership (of AMMA) has been clearly lying to us. After so many letters and grievances, they haven’t done anything. They don’t have a grievance redressal system. They are trying to hide something. Whom are they trying to fool?” said Padmapriya, member of both the WCC and the general body of AMMA, at a press conference in Kochi.
With a list of demands including keeping Dileep out of AMMA and taking back the survivor, three WCC members had a dialogue with AMMA’s executive council on August 7 which was said to have ended on a ‘productive’ note. But two months after that meeting, in which WCC members said they were promised positive steps, the AMMA has not agreed to any of their demands, the women’s collective said.
“We believed and went for the meeting (on August 7) because we wanted to bring about a change. This is a big industry and encompasses a lot of talents and arts. It should be a safe place for women…in the letter they wrote to us, they have not agreed to any of the demands, there is not a mention of the survivor,” said Revathy, a senior actor and founding member of WCC.
The WCC members alleged that the leadership of AMMA never wanted to do anything for the survivor and kept exploiting the loopholes in the bye-laws they themselves made to pass the buck. They underlined that they had invested a lot of their time and risked their personal lives and professional careers to speak against AMMA. Stressing that they still had faith in AMMA, they said similar could not be said of its leadership.
Parvathy Thiruvoth, one of the founding WCC members and a leading actress in the industry, said, “This (AMMA) is not a happy family. The next step is to keep exposing. It is not going to quiet down. We are not going anywhere. We will be here, but we will not shut our eyes and keep quiet.”