Indian actress Parvathy Thiruvothu resigned from the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) on October 12 as a mark of protest against its general secretary and actor Edavela Babu’s comments against her colleague, an alleged rape survivor.
In an interview, Babu was asked by a panel of broadcast journalists whether actress Bhavana would be included in a movie that AMMA was planning to make and his response was: “She is not in AMMA anymore. We cannot bring back the dead.”
Thiruvothu struck back by announcing her withdrawal from the film body. “His utterly disgusting and mortifying remark comparing a woman member who had been badly let down by this organisation and consequently left it, to a dead person is beyond correction. Mr Babu may believe he just used a metaphor, but it shows his nauseating attitude and I pity him. I am sure that when the media starts discussing this remark, many of his peers will support him. I am certain about this because of the way they have always dealt with issues pertaining to women,” wrote Thiruvothu in a Facebook post.
The ‘Uyare’ star has been very vocal about the 2017 kidnapping and assault case that shocked the Kerala movie industry. Superstar Dileep is one of the accused in the case where a female actress was assaulted in a moving vehicle. The incident triggered massive outrage against the actor and ignited debates about the toxic working culture in the Malayalam film industry, which is dominated by men.
The survivor of the attack and four other leading actresses resigned from AMMA in 2018 after the group decided to reinstate Dileep, who had been ousted from the organisation after he was named in the assault case.
“In 2018, when my friends resigned from AMMA, I stayed back thinking at least a few should continue to work within a broken system and help repair it. But after watching [the] AMMA general secretary speak, I have abandoned all hope that anything will ever change within this association,” Thiruvothu said.
The actress, who has always been outspoken about gender issues plaguing the Malayalam film industry, demanded that Babu resign for his remarks. “I will be keenly watching to see who will come forward. I urge every member to see that it is a hazy bubble of ‘welfare’ that is wrapped around a core of corrupt morals,” she said.
Babu defends comments
However, Babu maintains that he was referring to the film and the story arc. In an interview with Times of India, Babu claims that his remarks were taken out of context.
“I can’t do anything if they are finding a new meaning to what I said. I was asked if [the survivor] would be part of the sequel of ‘Twenty 20’. I said how can someone who died be part of the film? I didn’t clarify that the character she played in the movie died. But that’s what I meant by what I said. The questions were sharp and my answers were concise. Also, I had said that [the survivor] is not a member of AMMA. So, our priority would be to select around 40 characters from 400+ members of AMMA. Only after that, we will look at other actors,” Babu said in that interview.
Thiruvothu is an integral part of the Women’s Collective in Cinema that was formed to protect the interests of the female actors. Many more resignations from AMMA by female actors can be expected during this week.