The #metoo wave has hit the Indian entertainment industry, and it hit hard. The past two weeks saw members the Bollywood film fraternity name and shame actors for sexual harassment and sexual assault. The hashtag on social media has hit other fields as well, including journalists, corporate bigwigs and even politicians. A few of the accused have come forward and apologized, an unprecedented move in the nation that is known to treat women like mere objects.
Down south however, things are a little different. Poet Vairamuthu, a household name in the Tamil film industry has been accused of sexual harassment.
It all began when journalist Sandhya Menon tweeted a screenshot of an anonymous allegation that the poet had hugged her and kissed her in his office. Singer Chinmayi then retweeted this, along with another screenshot of a similar allegation against Vairamuthu from her friend who chose to remain anonymous.
This led to many other women coming forward and sharing their experiences of being harassed by Vairamuthu, including one chilling account of his behavior at a ladies hostel that he owns, in the presence of his wife. Other Tamil film stalwarts who have been outed for sexual harassment are actor Ratha Ravi and Chekka Chivantha Vaanam actor Karthik T M.
It is interesting to note that while some of the accused in Bollywood have come up to apologize, there was initially pin drop silence from Vairamuthu’s camp. Even the ever vocal Tamil Film Producers Council, Vishal kept mum on the issue for a while. The actor then came forward with a statement saying that the women who have voiced out their experiences will be helped, and encouraged victims to come forward to the council as soon as it happens. Just in time, too. Right before the release of his upcoming movie’s trailer.
Meanwhile, support has been pouring out for Chinmayi who chose to take a stand with these victims, and share her own experience. Samantha Ruth, Siddarth, Shaktisree Gopalan, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar and Anil Srinivasan are just a few big names who have chosen to stand in solidarity with the #metoo cause.
While many more victims are coming out with their stories, there is no dearth of imbeciles who shamelessly question the intentions of Chinmayi and the rest. It’s no surprise, the Tamil audience have perfected the trend of victim blaming.
The silver lining is that people are talking about sexual abuse in the Tamil film fraternity, and those victimized are speaking up. Whether legal action is taken or not is secondary, but for now, these victims need to be heard. And we could not be more grateful for the advent of social media. #metoo