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Malayalam actors’ body sets meeting with Parvathy, Revathy and Padmapriya over Dileep row

The meeting will be held on August 7.

The Association of Malayalam Movie Artists will meet actresses Parvathy, Revathy and Padmapriya on August 7 amid the row over the guild’s decision to reinstate actor Dileep, who was ousted last July after his arrest in a sexual assault case.

The three actresses are members of the Women in Cinema Collective, which represents women in the Malayalam film industry. They had sought an emergency meeting with AMMA after the guild decided to welcome Dileep back at a General Body Meeting on June 24.

The Women in Cinema 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.

“We have invited our members that include Revathi, Padmapriya, and Parvathy for the talks on August 7,” said Edavela Babu, general secretary of AMMA, according to The Hindu. “The association’s executive committee meeting will be also held on the occasion.”

AMMA’s decision to reinstate Dileep had garnered garnered criticism from several quarters. Four members from the Women in Cinema Collective, including the assault survivor, had resigned from actors’ body in protest. Around 80 academics, writers, artists, lawyers and activists condemned the decision in an open letter. Members of the Kannada and Malayalam film industries have also voiced their protest. Dileep has turned down the reinstatement offer, saying he will go back to the guild after establishing his innocence.

According to The News Minute , the Women in Cinema Collective wants four issues to be raised the upcoming meeting: “The expelled member’s reinstatement and the implications of AMMA’s decision, the steps taken by AMMA to support the survivor, how AMMAs bye-laws are structured to ensure welfare of all its members, and what AMMA can do to make women feel more included and safe,” the report said.

However, Babu told The Times of India that the meeting has been scheduled with the three actresses who are also a part of AMMA, and not with the Women in Cinema Collective.

Meanwhile, in an interview to Mid-Day published on Thursday, actor-turned politician Kamal Haasan criticised the silence of Southern cinema actors on the row. “I don’t know what stops actors from taking part in gender equality issue,” Haasan told the tabloid. “I am sure every man is concerned, but at the same time, he is old-fashioned. He needs to wake up and understand that our country was headed by a woman prime minister nearly 40 years ago. She committed some mistakes for which we criticised her. But, we still brought her back. So, as a society, we aren’t going to spare anyone [in the wrong] nor are we going to lead an unnecessary witch hunt.”

In his first press conference after taking over as president of AMMA, actor Mohanlal on July 9 defended Dileep’s reinstatement saying that no one had raised objections to it during the annual general body meeting.

“A member can only be dismissed after discussing the matter in our general body. When the topic came for discussion, no one voiced any disagreement, and many members even spoke in Dileep’s favour,” Mohanlal said.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.