The Women in Cinema Collective (WCC), a body of female actors and technicians formed in the backdrop of the sensational sexual assault of a leading Malayalam actress, commemorated its two-year anniversary on Friday. The organisation marked the event in Kochi by inviting leading film personalities from across the country and taking a resolve to continue its fight for safer work-places for women in Malayalam cinema.
Health Minister KK Shylaja, participating in the event, launched the WCC’s website and commended the organisation for it’s role in fighting for rights of women in the film industry.
Bollywood actor Swara Bhaskar, a chief guest at the event in Kochi, lauded the WCC for empowering women in the film industry to take charge of their own narratives.
“It’s extremely commendable that the women in front and behind the camera have got together and organised and relentlessly struggled to make their voices and voices of others heard. You should know that we are looking to the work you are doing with so much hope and inspiration,” she said.
“The women of Malayalam film industry and the WCC have shown other film industries how important it is to take charge of our own stories and to collaborate and reach out to ensure that our workplaces are safe, secure and just.”
She added that the #MeToo movement in the state’s film industry had come even before it hit international headlines. “Women in the Malayalam industry began their struggle for safer and better work spaces before it became a trending hashtag,” she said.
Bhaskar also reaffirmed that the right to safe work-spaces, especially for women, must be a fundamental right.
“There can be no equality without safety and security. This holds true not just for gender but also for caste, class or any identity. We cannot talk about equality if our public spaces, work spaces and homes are not secure,” she stated.
Over the last two years, the WCC, formed with the blessings of the state’s ruling Left government, has been involved in a heated dispute with the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) over the membership of actor Dileep, an accused in the sexual assault case. The leading actor, who was dropped from AMMA after his arrest in 2016, was taken back last year into the body with a majority of it’s members signing off on the decision. However, it has not gone down well with the WCC which has termed it a betrayal of the sexual assault survivor, who was also at one point a member of AMMA.
Actor-director Revathy, also a member of the WCC, promised that the organisation had not let slip it’s relentless dialogue with AMMA in the case.
“At the press conference, we expressed that nothing is moving forward. Till today, this is still an unresolved issue. We have not stopped at it. We will take it and see what’s AMMA doing for these things. It’s a long battle and the members of WCC have the courage to go about it,” she said.
At the same time, Bijukumar Damodaran, a national award winning director, credited WCC for casting light on the sexist and misogynist scripts and dialogues which continue to be written in Malayalam cinema.
“Till about two years ago, sexist and anti-women dialogues in Malayalam cinema were accepted and tolerated. Today, we are concerned. In the last two years, even if a small minority of the people have stood out and spoken against anti-women dialogues in cinema, it has been with the arrival of the WCC,” he said.
“The importance of WCC is that it has lit a matchstick in the anti-women, patriarchal corridors of Malayalam cinema. That fire from the matchstick is growing.”
A number of notable film personalities such as ace Tamil director Pa Ranjith and script writer Syam Pushkaran were chief guests at the event.