Love,marriage and adultery may be a few of the great running themes of our private lives,but they fall away when we step into the professional world. Except for Nikitha Thukral,a young actress who was accused of having an affair with the Kannada movie star Darshan,and was summarily banned from work for three years by the Kannada Film Chamber of Commerce for damaging the domestic harmony of a fellow actor (never mind the fact that this fellow actor was recently jailed for assaulting his wife and threatening her at gunpoint). The point is,a professional association has behaved like a medieval cabal of elders,penalising a woman for a purportedly moral end. Darshan,meanwhile,faces no such bans despite his alleged adultery and domestic violence record and is a pillar of the industry,with many big-budget projects resting on his shoulders.
Who is the film chamber to judge and condemn for adultery? To dismiss an actress (while denying her the right to speak for herself) on these grounds is a singularly unprofessional and sexist act. Of course,the industrys entrenched hostility to women is legend its a mens club,where women are represented by the wives of producers and
actors. Recently,Kannada actress Ramya caused a furore when she took on the producers lobby for underpaying her and calling her temperamental and unprofessional. They tried banning her too,but Ramya relied on social media to put up a spirited defence of herself and upend power relations in the movie business. The ban was finally revoked,and Ramya was paid in full. Now,the Nikitha Thukral ban has rallied many in the film industry and outside to protest the patent unfairness of the film chambers ways. It has revealed the bias and bigotry of the Kannada film world worse than many others but more than that,its a reminder of the many ways in which equality at the workplace is whittled down,and the easy reflex of punishing a woman for her imagined transgressions,especially if they involve her sexuality.
The Kannada film chamber wanted to ban Nikitha Thukral as a lesson for others. One can only hope that the outcry around this episode becomes a cautionary tale for others who might have the same instincts.