On Monday, Chennai-based playback singer, voice artiste and TV presenter Chinmayi Sripadaa, 33, tweeted about being groped at a college in Chennai during the finale of Sun TV’s popular reality show Sun Singer, in which she is a judge. The competition took place in the grounds of the college when one of the composers/singers, performing during the show, walked among the audience. “They hadn’t arranged for bouncers, which is pretty sad. Whoever was there moved along with this performer, leaving the front row judges and celebrities unguarded and mobbed. It began with many people wanting selfies with me and, while I was obliging, they started pushing and suddenly a hand came from nowhere and groped me. After 15-16 years of performing live, I’m used to being mobbed but this stunned me. I couldn’t react,” Sripadaa told The Indian Express over the phone from Chennai.
She came back home and tweeted, “After almost aeons I got groped at an event yesterday. I happened to share this story on Instagram and what shocked me is how many men and women have been molested as children (teachers, brothers, co-passengers, uncles, grandparents and even women)…. Most girls and boys haven’t mustered the strength to share it coz no one would believe it. Even if girls have a chance of being heard, men have none”
“I even tried to rationalise it, thinking that probably someone was trying to hold on to something before they fell, but I know the truth,” says Sripadaa, who added, “No matter how educated, strong, outspoken a woman, this one is hard to sink in. In spite of me being a rabble-rouser that I am called, it took me a few seconds to react to this. After the incident, the winner, a four-year-old, was to be crowned, and I knew I didn’t know whom I would be complaining against. It could be a college kid,” she said.
The show, which is a talent hunt for children between six and 13, is the reinvented version of Sapthaswarangal in which Sripadaa was a contestent. She won the competition in the ’90s. She was 15 when composer AR Rahman introduced her through the song Oru dheivam in Kannathil Muthamittal. She made her Bollywood debut with Mangal Pandey: The Rising but garnered a lot of attention with songs Tere bina and Mayya mayya in Mani Ratnam’s Guru.
Sripadaa says that she first experienced sexual assault when she was seven and asleep. A parish priest touched her inappropriately. She complained but nothing came of it. “The #MeToo movement is fantastic. It’s important to speak up. For men and women,” she said.