Women In the Arts Denounce Malayalam Film Association’s Absolution of Actor Dileep
Kerala actor Gopalakrishnan Padmanabhan Pillai, better known by his stage name, Dileep, was reinstated by the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) earlier this week. AMMA had revoked Dileep’s membership in July 2017, after the actor was accused of abducting and sexually assaulting a female actor. Allegedly, Dileep hired a group of men to assist him with the attack, which he is believed to have planned because of a disagreement he had over a business deal with the actor some years prior. (Reportedly, Dileep was only in jail for 85 days, though it is unclear whether this was because he was absolved of his crimes.)
On Wednesday, four women, including the survivor, stepped down from the association in response.
“Prior to this, this actor has snatched away opportunities of acting from me. When I had complained at that time, AMMA did not act seriously on my complaint,” the survivor told The News Minute in a statement on Wednesday. “And when such a terrible incident happened, an organisation that I am also a part of tried to protect the man who has been accused of the crime. Realising that there is no purpose in being a part of such an organisation, I hereby resign.”
The announcement was also met with outrage from women academics, artists, journalists, and actors, as The Wire reports. Around 80 women signed a statement condemning AMMA for is decision.
“With utmost shock and concern we watch the recent development in Malayalam film industry that led to the resignation of four actors from the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA). This decision to take actor Dileep back into its fold shows the utter disregard AMMA as an association holds towards the survivor of a sexual assault,” said the statement.
While the four actors who stepped down from AMMA were vocal about their disgust at the union’s actions, the lack of condemnation from others in the film industry is disheartening. The majority of the women who signed the statement were in academia. But Indian film industries have yet to jump on board with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
In April of this year, Telugu actor Sri Reddy staged a protest in front of the Movie Artistes Association in order to speak out against the sexual harassment she experienced in the Telugu film industry. She was one of the first Indian actors to publicly name her harassers, but others in the industry have yet to follow suit.
Their hesitations likely stems from the fear that coming out against prominent men in the industry can put careers in jeopardy — without even the achievement of change or justice, as in this case. But if enough women come out and name their attackers, they could hopefully find strength in numbers, and perpetrators would be brought to justice. Of course, if every woman in India’s film industries came out and named their assaulters and harassers, there is indeed a very real possibility there would be no men left to cast a movie.