Amma’s men behind move to downplay Women in Cinema Collective?

Even as Malayalee folk and a section in the cinema industry look at the stands taken and the progress of newly formed organisation in Malayalam cinema industry with pride and hope, another section of people in the same industry seem to be not so happy about the developments. Noted actors like Swetha Menon and Lakshmi Priya had cleared their stand that they would never be a part of Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) formed by Manju Warrier, Remya Nambeesan, Rima Kallingal and others.

WCC was formed after a prominent actress was attacked and sexually harassed inside a car. WCC members had met the Chief Minister and raised their various concerns. Irrespective of people involved, WCC had taken strong stands when it comes to protection of women in the cinema industry.

Recently, senior dubbing artist Bhagya Lakshmi on Facebook has publicly shown resentment against the invitation she received from the organisation leaders. It is informed that Sajitha Madathil, one of the founder members of the WCC had called up Bhagya Lakshmi over phone by evening on Tuesday. Bhagya Lakshmi, who had earlier pointed out that she was not informed about the setting up of a women only organisation in the industry, in a sarcastic way declined the invitation and said that she would help herself and did not need an organisation to support.

When The Kochi Post contacted, Sajitha Madathil, who is also an eminent theater artist, declined to respond. She said she had no comments on the issue.

Sources close to The Kochi Post indicate that the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) and some senior male artists in the industry had greater influence on those women who have openly criticised WCC and its leading members. It should be noted that Shwetha Menon is a stern supporter of Actor Lal, who was vehemently criticised by the WCC team for a feudalistic approach.

Sources further indicate that the firm stand taken by WCC in the actress abduction case as well as Meghna Nair’s body double case might have caused dismay among these senior artists who consider themselves as unquestionable leaders of Malayalam film industry.

Meanwhile Bhagya Lakshmi’s note against Sajitha Madathil and her invitation have drawn mixed response from the public as they wasted no time in commenting under the post. While some chose to stand with Sajitha Madathil, some other people congratulated Bhagya Lakshmi for her decision to do away with WCC.

Bhagya Lakshmi’s double standard when it comes to responding to issues related to women folk in the cinema field sound dubious. Bhagya Lakshmi, has crafted an image of herself as a crusader of women’s rights.  A person who has on various occasions performed dramatic outburst in women related cases now talks of each woman protecting herself and the irrelevance of WCC.

Bhagya Lakshmi’s use of highly sarcastic language and wordplay against the WCC invitation is also observed as a result of pressure from AMMA’s self-proclaimed God Fathers. If sources are to be believed, AMMA is indirectly pressuring most Woman actors to publicly demean WCC, holding their respective careers at stake. It’s no surprise that in the last 10 days three actors during different occasions publicly criticised or belittled WCC. In the coming days more such incidents are likely to happen as a part of the well-scripted AMMA propaganda.


Bhagya Lakshmi’s image by Augustus Binu [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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