It seems like there’s a sexual harassment problem in South Indian cinema that has been swept under the rugs, according to Telugu actress Sri Reddy, who claims that many prominent names in the industry have been promising actresses work in exchange of sexual favours, including director AR Murugadoss (Kaththi, Thuppakki).
Previously, Sri Reddy stripped outside the Film Chambers of Commerce, in protest against this issue. Because of this controversy, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has pressed the Telugu film industry to establish an appropriate grievance redressal system (basically an online HR, in which people can voice problems and complaints via SMS, email, etc).
But her allegations do not end there. In a recent Facebook post, the actress claimed that even actor Vishal (Avan Ivan), the general secretary of Nadigar Sangam and president of Tamil Film Producer Council has threatened her for exposing the dark side of South Indian cinema.
According to The Indian Express Vishal has dismissed those claims.
You never know who will be named next. I seriously think such grave allegations must be substantiated with evidence. Our laws about sex crimes are lopsided. Any woman can make the allegation and the law will act on that allegation and give the accused a chance to defend himself only later. This is not right.
While Vishal does have a point when he says, any woman can simply conjure sexual harrassment claims, he should still be focusing on investigating these claims, instead of shrugging them off. Unless of course, he, as Sri Reddy claims is part of the problem too.
Over the past 10 months or so, the women in Hollywood have stepped up and said, enough is enough. In what is called the #MeToo movement, Hollywood actors (both men and women) have told their stories and have exposed the terrible men in the industry. The likes of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and many many more have now been rightfully ostracized from Hollywood.
These disgusting men should not be protected by the industry, regardless of how talented they are. And if the whole “casting couch” problem has been happening in South Indian cinema too, then one can only hope that the victims start speaking out and that the good men stand by their side and offer their support.