The Kerala-based Women in Cinema Collective on Saturday accused the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists and its president Mohanlal of being unresponsive and “supporting” actor Dileep, who is accused of sexual assault. Prominent members of the women’s association addressed a press conference at the Kochi Press Club on Saturday.
The allegations come at a time when several women, including journalists, have taken to social media to give detailed accounts of the sexual harassment and misconduct they faced.
The Women in Cinema Collective claimed that while film organisations across the country were taking action against accused people, Association of Malayalam Movie Artists was acting in favour of the accused.
The collective was formed after an actress was allegedly waylaid by a group of men and sexually assaulted while on her way back from a shoot on February 17, 2017. Reports said that Dileep had allegedly planned the attack over a personal grudge. The members of the collective questioned why Association of Malayalam Movie Artists has not clarified about the status of Dileep’s membership following reports that his expulsion from the group had been revoked.
Actors Revathy, Parvathy, Padmapriya, Rima Kallingal, Remya Nambeeshan and filmmaker Anjali Menon were among those who spoke to reporters. “It [allegations against Dileep] is such a big case of sexual violence and for some reason, they are trying to support the accused,” actor Padmapriya said. “They are indulging in victim-shaming. The leadership [of AMMA] have been clearly lying to us. After so many letters and grievances, they haven’t done anything. They don’t have a grievance redressal system.”
The collective accused the association of using bylaws to accommodate Dileep and keep the woman who complained against him out of the association.
Most of the members of the collective are also members of AMMA. They have ruled out resigning from the association. “We feel disrespected, insulted and angry,” Padmapriya said, while accusing the association of misogyny.
The women claimed their collective was being seen as a threat by other film organisations. “In Bollywood, Aamir Khan drops out of a film because the director was accused of sexual harassment,” Kallingal said. “Akshay Kumar did the same with Houseful 4. MAMI cancelled screening of movies of the accused. But only in the Malayalam film industry, the filmmakers announce movies with the accused.”
Two actors also shared past experiences of sexual harassment at work.