The immensely popular Malayalam actor was abducted and molested by a gang of six. They not only ill-treated the actress but took pictures of her for blackmailing. The actor’s driver was arrested on the same night, while the other two were arrested in Coimbatore. At night after a shoot she was on the way from Thrissur to Kochi to take part in the dubbing of her new film directed by director-cum-actor Lal. The gang behind the incident is from the film industry and involved in doing various production jobs. The actress was held hostage for two hours. She was not having the best of relations with a group in the Malayalam film industry, and they had scuttled a few good roles that she was offered.
However, this is not the first instance where an actor has been sexually assaulted. Here are the stars that had faced some horrific experiences. Actor Shriya Saran was molested by an enthusiastic fan at Tirumala temple. However, the actor did not file any complaint with the police. A noted celebrity sexually assaulted actor Priyamani at a CCL (Celebrity Cricket League) party back in 2012. In 2014, actor-turned-politician Nagma was molested by her colleague Congress MLA Gaj Raj Sharma at a rally in Meerut. The incident, which happened in broad daylight, shook the entire nation. Genelia D’Souza was mobbed by fans when the actor inaugurated a showroom in Vijayawada. Genelia went ahead and slapped one of the fans who reportedly groped the actor in public. Kannada actor Smitha had her nightmare in Goa; she was in Gokarna shooting for the Kannada movie Shuddhi, when she decided to take a break in Goa. When Smitha was taking a stroll on the beach at night, a group of boys, high on alcohol, harassed the actor.
Tamil actor Varalaxmi took to Twitter and shared horrific experience of programming head of a leading TV channel seeking sexual favours from her for offering a role to her in soap. In 2013, Malayalam actress Nazriya Nazim complained about a director going behind her back to use a body double in a “steamy” scene (exactly what happened to Hollywood actress Amber Heard) for a Tamil film. At the time, Tamil actress Nayanthara was quick to tell Nazriya that this is an industry where “glamour” sells and everyone knows it, so it looks funny for actresses to complain.
South Indian film industries have strange canons for women. The industry has a racism problem, like Hollywood, and that it has an intersectional effect on women. There are many actresses who suffered sexual violence in the industry. If you talk about Hindi film industry then there are many examples, but the industry girls are much bold in speaking about issues faced by them as compared to south film industry, because of the size and scope of work. Until now though, it seems like it was just something that people silently accepted, no matter what they really felt about it. The abduction and sexual assault of a popular Malayalam actress in February 2017 has thrown the doors wide open to conversations on sexism and discrimination, and it feels like south Indian actresses understand that this is their moment to speak out.
These days many film industry woman have spoken out since the abduction and assault of the Malayalam actress have been doing so in different ways and on different platforms, but interestingly, they’re all bound by the fact that they’re doing it for the greater good. Whether they’re speaking about sexual assault, like Bhavana and Parvathy, or casteism, like Parvathy and Manju Warrier, or sexism, like Manju Warrier and Jyothika, they’re all using their personal experiences and platforms at this crucial moment to make a larger point about all women. It’s clear that the assault of the actress has created an impetus for women to come together and stand up for something much larger than them. It could be the fact that their colleague was sexual battered on her way home from a shoot that struck a nerve in and it-could-have-been-me way, or more likely, it acted as the sort of the tipping point in people’s hearts and the media, like the 16 December Delhi gang rape did in the national imagination. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that this is a moment that south Indian actresses are using to create something really special with, and it’s not just for themselves. However, there are ample stories of sexual crime occurring against woman across India in every film industry.
Some spoke at length and some did not even bother to mention about the trauma that they had undergone. Be it Aishwarya Rai, Kangana Ranaut or Bhavna, every woman has gone through some or the other cruel experiences by their own fraternity members, family and much more. From film-stars to beauty queens to TV actresses, no section of the glamour world has been spared from its clutches. The grass is not always greener on the other side, there are several Bollywood celebs who have been physically abused by friends and family or who have been a victim of strained relationship. The silver screen is not as rosy as it seems. In a movie obsessed nation, where people look up to celebrities, it gets quite shocking to hear about their traumatic experiences. While there are many who suffered in silence, there have been quite a few celebrities who have been vocal about their sufferings. This is high time one need to explore the abusive truth behind silver screen performances. We all as society need to react and stand by the woman in totality.
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