What began as a rebellious movement led by women in Malayalam cinema in early 2017 has now met a milestone. After a meeting with the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC), AMMA (Association Of Malayalam Movie Artistes), the organisation that has been receiving flak for its controversial decisions, and general apathy towards issues concerning women, has finally agreed to work towards making the committee a democratic, inclusive space
In a private hotel in Kochi last evening, the leaders of AMMA, the umbrella organisation led by the most influential members of the film industry, met three members of Women in Cinema Collective (WCC), and discussed some of the crucial issues, including AMMA’s stance in the case of abduction and sexual assault of an actress in February 2017.
Mohanlal, president of AMMA, met the press after the two-hour meeting, and hinted that AMMA was ready for a policy overhaul. “We have heard their (WCC’s) issues, and we will make sure that they are given a proper platform henceforth,” he said, adding that AMMA will also consider changing the by-laws of the organisation and forming a disciplinary committee to make it a more democratic and professional place. Mohanlal also dismissed rumours that he had submitted his resignation as AMMA president. “We agree that the issues raised by WCC members are legitimate, and we will discuss it further in a General Body Meeting to be held soon.”
Actresses Revathi, Padmapriya and Parvathy said they were satisfied with the turnout of the meeting. “We are here as members of AMMA, and not as WCC members. I am one of the oldest members of AMMA,” said Revathi.
The meeting was the result of months-long effort by the women’s group which, through strongly-worded social media posts, public statements and other methods, had been expressing its dissent against the undemocratic and misogynist platform that AMMA has become. WCC was formed in May 2017, soon after the abduction and sexual assault of an actress in Kochi, a controversial case in which actor Dileep is one of the prime accused. The rift between AMMA and WCC became widest at the end of June when AMMA reinstated Dileep to the fold without seeking the opinion of a majority of its members. Following this, on June 28, four actresses including the assault survivor, resigned from AMMA, and actors Revathi, Parvathy Thiruvoth and Padmapriya Janakiraman, members of WCC and lifelong members of AMMA, asked for a meeting with the organisation to address the issue. AMMA later retracted its decision to reinstate the actor, yet failed to provide positive assurances to the women’s group.
AMMA members including Jagadeesh, Mukesh, Swetha Menon, Honey Rose, Rachana Narayanan Kutty, Indrans, Jayasurya and Asif Ali were also a part of the meeting. Jagadeesh, at the press meet, said that the organisation will also discuss the means to support the survivor in her legal battle. “We admit that there were legal lapses in the impleading petition filed by two AMMA members (Honey Rose and Rachana Narayanan Kutty). Rachana is a close friend of the survivor, and they genuinely wanted to help her. We will seek legal opinion on how to take it ahead,” he said.
Ever since its formation, WCC has been battling one controversy after another. While a section of the film industry, including some younger actors, criticized it for creating a rift in the industry, the fans of some of the biggest superstars in Malayalam cinema launched a hate campaign against some of the members of WCC for publicly slamming the industry for its misogyny.
Meanwhile, the Kerala High Court on Friday, will hear a plea filed by Dileep demanding a CBI inquiry into the case. In June this year, the actor had approached the court for access to 32 case-related documents.
Featured image: Actresses Revathi, Parvathy Thiruvoth and Padmapriya Janakiraman at the anniversary celebrations of WCC earlier this year