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The Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) recently revoked the suspension of actor Dileep who was arrested for allegedly being involved in the abduction and sexual assault of a well-known Malayalam actress.
Actresses Rima Kallingal, Remya Nambeesan and director Geetu Mohandas, also members of the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) have resigned from the association enraged by this step taken by AMMA while Dileep is still under investigation.
Dileep has been accused of hiring four men to abduct and assault the actress as well as shoot videos of the assault. It has been suspected that Dileep did to this in retaliation for the long-standing bad-blood between two. The assault survivor has also accused Dileep of taking away many acting opportunities from her and trying to end her career in Mollywood.
It is shameful how the system supports men even when they are accused of heinous crimes. Money definitely has a role to play in it as Dileep’s absence might cause a loss of Rs 60 crore to the industry, with his upcoming movies delayed or not released at all. He also owns businesses, theatres and a restaurant, and allegedly, has links to various Kerala MLAs. But another factor for the reinstatement of Dileep in AMMA is the deep-seated sexism that is prevalent in society which is always willing to give ‘the benefit of the doubt’ to rich and powerful men whereas the same treatment is never extended towards women.
The AMMA also ignored the earlier complaints made by the actress against Dileep and supported him before his arrest. This incidence reflects how our society doesn’t think twice before slut-shaming women based just on their clothings but speaks up for men even as they are under investigation for criminal offenses. I see no difference between this latest incident and blaming the victim for being raped. Sexual violence is normalised and the big wings of Mollywood industry don’t seem to have a problem with it at all.
Maybe this is caused because of the rape culture that has seeped into the minds of people through misogynist language (ever wondered why most cuss words revolve around women?), objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorisation of sexual violence which is commonly seen in movies. Mammootty’s dialogues in Kasaba are a good illustration of this attitude. As a result, a society that disregards women’s rights and security is formed.
The belief that men are superior, dominant, and sexually aggressive and women the natural ‘prey’ responsible for their own safety, has to change. But how will it change when one of the most influential industries (film) propagates that very idea? More men and women need to protest against the actions taken by the AMMA along with the few who feel their voices are being suppressed.
The increasing instances of violence against women and draconian moral policing in Kerala which is is known for 100% literacy and has the reputation of being progressive is extremely saddening. It shows that no state is free from sexism.
Image is a still from the movie Rama Leela
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Shows like Indian Matchmaking only further the argument that women must adhere to social norms without being allowed to follow their hearts.
When Netflix announced that Indian Matchmaking (2020-present) would be renewed for a second season, many of us hoped for the makers of the show to take all the criticism they faced seriously. That is definitely not the case because the show still continues to celebrate regressive patriarchal values.
Here are a few of the gendered notions that the show propagates.
A mediocre man can give himself a 9.5/10 and call himself ‘the world’s most eligible bachelor’, but an independent and successful woman must be happy with receiving just 60-70% of what she feels she deserves.
Darlings makes some excellent points about domestic violence . For such a movie to not follow through with a resolution that won't be problematic, is disappointing.
I watched Darlings last weekend, staying on top of its release on Netflix. It was a long-awaited respite from the recent flicks. I wanted badly to jump into its praise and will praise it, for something has to be said for the powerhouse performances it is packed with. But I will not be able to in a way that I really had wanted to.
I wanted to say that this is a must-watch on domestic violence that I stand behind and a needed and nuanced social portrayal. But unfortunately, I can’t. For I found Darlings to be deeply problematic when it comes to the portrayal of domestic violence and how that should be dealt with.
Before we rush to the ‘you must be having a problem because a man was hit’ or ‘much worse happens to women’ conclusions, that is not what my issue is. I have seen the praises and criticisms, and the criticisms of criticisms. I know, from having had close associations with non-profits and activists who fight domestic violence not just in India but globally, that much worse happens to women. I have written a book with case studies and statistics on that. Neither do I have any moral qualms around violence getting tackled with violence (that will be another post some day).