The Women in Cinema Collective, an association comprising of Mollywood’s women artistes and technicians, have been making headlines right from its inception. From calling out sexism, patriarchy and fighting for the rights of each other, these women have planted the seed of warranted revolution in Mollywood. They have also sparked a debate about why it was necessary to have such an organisation. In a recent interview to Kochi Times, actor Mamtha Mohandas has commented that a body like WCC is ‘not required’ to address the needs of women artistes. Responding to a question about why she wasn’t in the collective, she said, “It was formed when I wasn’t here. If you ask me would I have been a part of it if I was here, maybe not. It’s not because I am against or for it. I just don’t have an opinion,” she said.
She goes on to add, “About not being part of WCC, I don’t think it requires a body like the WCC to voice what we stand for. I don’t understand the need for a body comprising just women. I function a little differently. I think a little differently. I think any mess that someone is in is created by themselves. However, I wasn’t here when these incidents were happening.”
The WCC was formed after a prominent actress was abducted and assaulted, allegedly at the insistence of a popular actor. Mamtha was also questioned about her comment about the incident. “During the press meet, they had asked me what I had to say about the actress assault incident. I said that in my knowledge, it was something that should have been discussed and resolved a few years ago. I know when the issue (between the actor and the assaulted actress) had erupted; it was not when the incident had happened. It was much before that. So, everybody who were part of what happened were very much aware of the mess they were getting into,” she said.
She further mentions later in the interview that she feels that the victim in some way ‘entertains’ the treatment she receives. “I don’t know if I should be saying this, but if a woman gets into trouble, I feel somewhere she is responsible for it. Because if I have gotten into any sort of trouble where I have felt that someone has spoken to me with disrespect or in this situation, a sexual assault or a sexual abuse or anything indicative towards that manner, I feel I would have entertained some part of it. This is what I feel and that doesn’t mean that I am pointing fingers because I don’t think it should happen to anybody,” she had said.
Rima Kallingal, one of the founding members of WCC and also a prominent voice in Mollywood, has responded to Mamtha’s comments with a Facebook post. In the post, she states that no victim is responsible for what happened to that individual.
“Dear Mamtha Mohandas and my sisters and brothers and LGBTQ community out there who have been through harassment and assaults and molestations and rapes in life, you are not responsible when you get troubled, cat-called, assaulted, molested, abused, harassed, violated, attacked, kidnapped or raped.The molester, assaulter, aggressor, violater, kidnapper or the rapist is responsible. A society that normalises these wrongs is responsible. A world that protects the wrong-doer is responsible. Aly Raisman (She called out her doctor who sexually molested 141 women athletes including her, putting an end to years of torture.) says, ‘The ripple of our actions, or inactions, can be enormous, spanning generations.’Please don’t feel guilty for another person’s act. Continue to speak out and stand up for each other. Let’s break that wall of silence and ignorance. Love and strength to all,” she wrote.