Director Susi Ganesan has filed a defamation suit against filmmaker Leena Manimekalai, who accused him of sexual harassment during MeToo in October last year.
TNM reported yesterday that the complaint was filed under section 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for charges under section 500 of the IPC (punishment for defamation) at the Metropolitan Magistrate Court in Saidapet, Chennai.
In the complaint, Susi Ganesan has attempted to malign Leena’s character and alleged that she tried to “grab popularity” with “MeToo” allegations. He presents his own track record as the director and producer of acclaimed films, and writes of Leena’s work in films and outside as offensive, radical and anti-establishment.
Mounting the complaint on these alleged allegations, he asks why it took her 13 years to speak about the incident, and accuses her of “seeking sympathy” as he rejected her “beg and pleas to provide an opportunity in my artistic movies” for the reason that her “contents and sexual ideology did not suit my choice for public consumption.”
The complaint copy, a bulky document, has attachments of Leena’s social media posts, some of which are her writings and political opinions, and says the work which she has authored and published “promotes enmity on religious grounds” and has “obscene sexual images, texts and pictures.”
Leena’s lawyer Sudha Ramalingam told Silverscreen that they were prepared to fight the allegations in court. Leena also said, “I will defend my MeToo posts, and also my politics, art, literature, films, poetry and other work which is my freedom of expression and has in no way defamed anyone especially the harasser.”
The case has been posted before the Metropolitan Magistrate Court, and will be heard on July 7.
In 2017, Leena’s Facebook post described an instance of assault, and during MeToo last year she named director Susi Ganesan as the person who harassed her. He allegedly attempted to assault her in his car in 2005, under the pretext of giving her a ride back home after she interviewed him for a TV channel. She did not name him in the original post which she wrote shortly after the kidnapping and sexual assault of a popular Malayalam actress.
She said last year, “I trusted him and that’s why I got in. Sometime later, I heard the central lock click. He took away my phone and switched it off. He compelled me to go along with him to his apartment. I pleaded with him. I screamed at him. Finally, I threatened him. I told him that I would break the car door. But he did not listen.”
Leena said she had a small knife in her handbag which she usually carried with her. “I threatened him with it. What was supposed to be a twenty-five minute journey took forty-five minutes.”
She added that she did not have the courage to speak out at the time, and one of her worries was that he would spread false rumours about her in the industry. Susi Ganesan denied the allegations and said no such interview happened and threatened to file defamation suit against her.
Soon after Leena spoke out, actress Amala Paul also came to her support and said she too was sexually harassed by him during the shoot of Thiruttu Payale 2.