At a #MeToo press meet that took place about seven weeks ago, renowned playback singer, Chinmayi Sripaada folded her hands and begged for some sensitivity from the media. It was held after she’d alleged harassment by veteran lyricist, Vairamuthu. Chinmayi was on the verge of tears, but the hostility didn’t die. Even before she could complete her statement, there were pointed interjections. There was a sense that few people want to listen. The fate of someone already having allegedly suffered harassment, is that they have to endure more harassment and ridicule from sections of the media and society, who seem to be sure that this is being orchestrated purely for attention.
Joining Chinmayi in this unenviable club of taking on a powerful man, was Kannada actor Sruthi Hariharan. Alleging that she was inappropriately touched by actor Arjun Sarja during the shoot of a film, Hariharan became a subject of vitriol among fans. Even she faced a tense press meet, where repeated interjection tried to poke holes in her story. In a recent interview with The News Minute, Hariharan recounted the price of having spoken up against someone with a reasonable clout in the film industry.
“I used to get at least three offers a week, up until a few months ago. I did have a variety of scripts to choose from, especially in Kannada. And usually when we have a release and the film does well, it only gives rise to more opportunities. I had a big commercial release in September and if I had shut up, I’d be making news for the new projects I signed post that,” Hariharan was quoted as saying, even going to add that she had got only two offers since the time she spoke up.
Here is the video. The statement that I didn’t pay the dubbing union subscription fee is false.https://t.co/1TVsdgeasM
— Chinmayi Sripaada (@Chinmayi) November 23, 2018
Chinmayi, on the other hand, had her lifetime membership of the dubbing union cancelled without any explanation. Even though the by-laws of the union state that before terminating a membership, a showcause notice is required to be sent to the member in question. Not surprising, but none of this was adhered to during the termination of Chinmayi Sripaada. In spite of records stating that Chinmayi had paid her dues in 2016, and also the fact that 95 other members hadn’t cleared their dues while they still enjoyed the privileges of being a member of the dubbing union. Chinmayi recently dubbed for Trisha in the much-acclaimed film, 96.
The alleged perpetrators Vairamuthu and Arjun Sarja, on the other hand, go on with their lives as usual. Women, however, are expected to start from scratch, and are held ‘accountable’ and often punished for speaking up against harassment and abuse.
In all the cases reported against the likes of Sajid Khan, Vikas Bahl, Nana Patekar, Alok Nath and many others – NO MAN has been held accountable for his actions. A snail-paced judiciary means that most alleged victims don’t pursue a legal recourse, which could take a few years. No justice, yet.