For the first time since MeToo, the Tamil film industry has condemned one of the accused persons, Radha Ravi, for his comments slut-shaming Nayanthara at the audio launch of her film Kolaiyuthir Kaalam, and for mocking the Pollachi sexual assault incident. Nayanthara has responded asking the Nadigar Sangam to set up an ICC, DMK has suspended Radha Ravi temporarily, the Sangam has issued a warning letter, Nayanthara’s partner Vignesh Shivan has spoken strongly, and this morning, the TFPC issued a warning to Radha Ravi.
In its letter to Radha Ravi, the Nadigar Sangam said, “You have made it a habit of passing sexist, derogatory comments at women, using double-entendre and vulgar comments. Not just in this instance, but for many years – at film events, public stages, and in your interviews to internet based outlets. Why haven’t you understood that this is causing embarrassment to the entire industry and all its professionals, actors and the women? That this is causing stress, and bringing shame to us?”
The Sangam said that his behaviour does not fit with his status as a senior actor and a scion of a large film family, and one who has been in the industry for over 50 years. The Sangam said, “If you continue to behave in this same way, the Nadigar Sangam will seriously consider withdrawing all professional cooperation to you.”
The TFPC statement says that Radha Ravi’s speech – made for the applause of a few people at such events, is causing him to lose respect and that the TFPC condemns his behaviour.
Radha Ravi is still the president of the Dubbing Artistes Association in Tamil Nadu. The office bearers of the association have been unavailable for comments, and what action against him will be taken is yet to be known.
Meanwhile, a question that has come up is why is the industry speaking only now, when a leading actor has been abused, and why no one condemned Radha Ravi for his comments against disabled children back in 2017, or responded to last year’s MeToo allegations and Radha Ravi’s comments against women actors in the industry at various audio launch events.
DMK spokesperson Saravanan told Silverscreen, “In the past, he may have made a lot of statements but this is something which has come in a very high profile function and the number of complaints were more, so the DMK has taken action.”
He further said that they were not under pressure to act due to elections, and they hadn’t taken action against Radha Ravi in the past because no complaints were made. “Look at the gravity of this speech. Whatever he spoke is unacceptable. It’s not about elections, it’s about protecting the dignity of women. About the past issues there was no complaint made to our party high command, but this time it is something so stark.”
DMK MP RS Bharathi also said that his comments now were unacceptable, “Previously, whenever we condemned him, he has apologised to us, even if it was not publicly. Despite our warnings he has not mended himself, so we had to take strict action.”
In the industry too, this moment has been seen as one with more ‘gravity’ because a leading actor is involved. Radikaa Sarathkumar’s tweet said that Nayanthara was a dedicated actor, above all controversies, and she had met Radha Ravi and told him this was “not in good taste at all.”
Nayanthara is one of the few dedicated actors we hav today, have the pleasure knowing her and sharing professional space with her, she is above all this, did not watch full video , but met Ravi today and told him it was not in good taste at all. https://t.co/zTUVSa4fWC
— Radikaa Sarathkumar (@realradikaa) March 24, 2019
Nayanthara’s partner Vignesh Shivan has now tweeted about the MeToo allegations and Radha Ravi’s comments against disabled children, made in 2017.
In 2018, there was a sexual harassment complaint against Mr.Radha Ravi by a distressed actress, who feared to reveal her identity. He walked scotfree. A little later Mr.Radha Ravi scandalously & insensitively mocked at the #MeToo movement.
— Vignesh Shivan (@VigneshShivN) March 24, 2019
Speaking to Silverscreen, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar said, “It’s very unfortunate that only when it happens to a big star you realise something is wrong. Your support in the industry should be unanimous irrespective of the position the woman is in. When Chinmayi and me were speaking about this all this while, nobody seemed to stand up.”
Chinmayi also asks, “The people who are speaking now, where were they six months back? Vignesh Shivan is sharing a MeToo story of a sexual harassment case against Radha Ravi by an actress. How come all these voices didn’t come up when we were talking about issues against Radha Ravi. I don’t understand, but it’s a good thing that at least when it’s happening to them, they are speaking up.”
Chinmayi is currently fighting a legal case against her termination from the dubbing union, which was issued after she called out lyricist Vairamuthu, and shared the anonymous sexual harassment allegations made against Radha Ravi by the women in the industry. She say, “Even now there is no action against Radha Ravi. If you see the letter that has gone from Nadigar Sangam to Radha Ravi, it says ‘dear respected sir, how can you speak like this?’ I mean, this man has been banning people whenever he feels like it, and no body questioned saying, they could not interfere in the workings of another union.”
Actor Rohini Molleti said that the dubbing union members should have stood by her when she spoke up against Radha Ravi. Samantha and Siddharth, who have supported the MeToo movement from the start, tweeted about this yesterday.
If the Dubbing artists union committee members stood by me when I raised my voice against Radha Ravi for talking ill of women, there would have been some respect for the committee.
Instead he removed me from the committee
— Rohini Molleti (@Rohinimolleti) March 25, 2019
I was shocked that my entire fraternity was either silent or cynical about the #MeToo movement; I silently rued the fact that it would take only the anger of a powerful woman to make the sleeping wake up. If you speak up only when your own are affected, it's not called bravery.
— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) March 24, 2019
My last tweets fail to communicate what I feel clearly, owing to me needing more words to clarify them. I'm deleting them out of respect to women and survivors. There is no need for muddled statements from men like me at this stage. The #metoo movement is more important. Sorry.
— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) March 25, 2019
Sighhh Mr.Radha Ravi the struggle to stay relevant . You’re a sad man and we all feel sorry for you . May your soul or whatever is left of it find peace ✌️. We ll send you tickets for Nayanthara’s next superhit film .. have some popcorn and take a chill pill.
— Samantha Akkineni (@Samanthaprabhu2) March 25, 2019
TFPC president Vishal, and actor Rana Daggubati have also responded.
Dear #radharavi SIR.Yes as a gen Secy of Nadigar sangam I wish I had da pleasure of signing the letter of condemning u 4 yr stupidity n yr recent speech against women n particular.its snt 2 u.grow https://t.co/IgLu1huAfc yaself Ravi fm nowonwrds Coz u hv a woman s name n ya name.
— Vishal (@VishalKOfficial) March 24, 2019
Just heard some filthy comments from Mr.#RadhaRavi to press about a very fine actor. Your comments sir reflect the "filth in your character" and the "fineness in her many performances" as actor.
Such a shame to the community you are!! #RadhaRavi
— Rana Daggubati (@RanaDaggubati) March 25, 2019
Last seen in Simbu’s Vantha Raajavathaan Varuven, Radha Ravi has been signing up for films and has Muthukumaran’s film Dharmaprabhu under production.
Meanwhile, Radha Ravi has issued a non-apology saying he is willing to meet Nayathara and Vignesh Shivan to “express his regret if they felt offended,” and that his intention was not to hurt anyone. It remains to be seen is if the industry will hereafter support lesser known artists who have been abused or have lost work because of speaking up against statements by men such as Radha Ravi, and if the Nadigar Sangam, TFPC and other unions will set up an ICC.