WCC Calls Hema Committee Recommendations Disappointing & Lacking in Clarity

Members of the Women in Cinema Collective have expressed their disapproval of the Hema committee report, calling its recommendations disappointing and lacking in clarity.

Two years and four months after the report was submitted, the Kerala government held the first meeting with stakeholders, on Wednesday, to discuss the committee’s recommendations. The meeting was chaired by Saji Cherian, Kerala’s Minister for Culture.

Post the meeting, addressing the media, actor Padmapriya, a member of WCC, said, “It is disappointing to see these recommendations. They are loosely defined. Anyone who reads this can understand that there will be many questions. I don’t know if the State has taken enough time and consideration to put this together. Who is doing this and how are they doing this?”

She further noted that just as the government had published the Adoor committee report, they have to systematically publish the Hema committee report as well. 

Filmmaker Asha Joseph said, “There is an issue of clarity here. Having invested so much time and money to produce this report, how can we understand the recommendations without knowledge of the findings?”

Film editor Bina Paul added that while there are recommendations for toilets and equal pay, there is no clarity on the same. “What is the basis for this? To whom should equal pay be given? How can we implement it without knowing for which sector? How can we give feedback?”

WCC members said that they had discussed with other stakeholders about how the report can be made public and all were in agreement. “The minister is saying there are confidential parts in the report. But there are ways of maintaining the confidentiality and still making the report public,” they added.

On July 1, 2017, the Kerala government established the Justice Hema Committee to study the issues of gender disparity, sexual harassment, and other issues faced by women in the Malayalam film industry and propose recommendations. The commission headed by retired judge Hema was formed in the aftermath of the 2017 female actor abduction and sexual assault case. Many women testified before the commission, and a report was submitted to the government on December 31, 2019. Since then, the members of WCC have been constantly pushing for the report to be published.

Meanwhile, Siddique, Treasurer of AMMA (Association of Malayalam Movie Artists), said that the organisation welcomed 90% of the suggestions and their reason for not accepting the remaining 10% was due to the practical difficulties in implementing them. 

“It was a good discussion and we felt that the Hema committee findings were good. AMMA doesn’t have any objection to the report being published,” he added. 

Minister Saji Cherian, however, reiterated that Justice Hema herself has asked that the report not be published. He further stated that there is a need for a law to ensure protection for women working in the industry. “The government has acknowledged the contents of the report, and a law will be formulated soon,” he added. 

A panel is to be formed, comprising P Satheedevi (Chairperson of Kerala Women’s Commission), Ranjith (Chairperson of Kerala Chalachitra Academy), Shaji N Karun (Chairperson of Kerala State Film Development Corporation), Madhupal (Chairperson of Kerala Cultural Activists Welfare Board), and V Hari Nair (Law Secretary), to further discuss the matter with the concerned organisations. 

Amber Heard Testifies That Johnny Depp Abused Her Verbally & Sexually

Amber Heard, who is the defendant in the defamation case filed by her ex-husband Johnny Depp, said the latter abused her verbally and sexually. Her statement came as part of her testimony on Wednesday, in the ongoing trial.

Recounting an incident from 2013, Heard said that Depp did a “cavity search” on her against her will after accusing her of hiding his cocaine. Heard testified that Depp had ripped off her dress and underwear, and penetrated her with his fingers.

Heard’s testimony came on day 14 of the trial in the defamation case filed by Depp over a 2018 op-ed piece that Heard wrote in The Washington Post about her experiences as a domestic abuse survivor.

The ongoing legal battle between Depp and Heard began when the latter filed for divorce in 2016 accusing Depp of domestic abuse. While the duo had reached a settlement on their divorce in 2017, Heard subsequently wrote the op-ed piece, which Depp claims defamed him and resulted in him losing several projects, including Pirates of the Caribbean.

Dr Dawn Hughes, a forensic psychologist who testified ahead of Heard, confirmed that the latter had been sexually assaulted by Depp, and added that she suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of being subjected to abuse at the hands of Depp.

Depp’s team continued to deny the allegations, and the actor claimed last week that he was a victim of domestic abuse.

Heard’s testimony on Wednesday came after Judge Penney Azcarate dismissed the strike motion from Heard’s team, on Tuesday, and allowed the trial to continue.

Heard recounted how she and Depp had met, in 2011, while filming Rum Diary. They started dating while on the press tour for the film.

She added that even though Depp had a tendency of disappearing on her and resurfacing days later, it wasn’t until he first hit her, that she realised that she needed to leave.

“I will never forget it. It changed my life,” Heard said as she recounted the incident from 2012.

Heard said that they were having a conversation at Depp’s place, when she asked him about a tattoo on his arm, that read, “Wino,” and laughed over it.

“I just laughed because I thought he was joking. And he slapped me across the face,” she said, and added, “And I laughed. I laughed because I didn’t know what else to do. I thought this must be a joke. I didn’t know what was going on. I just stared at him.”

Heard also mentioned that Depp was drinking and she believed that he was also high on cocaine, at the time of the incident.

“I, as a woman, had never been hit like that,” she said.

When she was about to leave, she found Depp crying and apologising, Heard added. He held her hand, and said, “I thought I put the monster away.”

Although Heard left at the time, the two reconciled shortly thereafter. “I believed there was a line he’d never cross again and that was it,” she said.

But things got worse, according to Heard, when Depp went back to drinking and accused her of having affairs with her friends and acquaintances. She also said Depp passed comments on her dressing and called her vile names.

Earlier during the trial, text exchanges between Depp and his friend, actor Paul Bettany, were shared, showing that Depp used vulgar language in regards to Heard.

Heard will continue with her testimony on Thursday, at the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia.

Vijay Babu Rape Case: Kerala Police to Issue Blue Corner Notice for Absconding Producer

The Kochi city police have decided to issue a Blue Corner notice against Malayalam actor-producer Vijay Babu, who is absconding after being charged in a rape case

Blue Corner notice is an enquiry notice issued to track, identify or obtain information about an accused who is absconding. The notice is issued to the country where the criminal is currently suspected to be hiding. 

The police had earlier confirmed that Babu had fled to Dubai from Bengaluru on April 24. They had further said that they were expecting him to surrender before the law. Since this has not happened thus far, a decision has been made to issue a Blue Corner notice.

Commissioner CH Nagaraju said that they have begun the process of issuing the notice, which involves state and national nodal officers.

Babu had reportedly e-mailed the police seeking time till May 19 to appear for interrogation, informing them that he was abroad for business purposes. When the police had responded to the e-mail and directed him to share his location, Babu did not reply. 

Sources told Times of India that once the Blue Corner notice is issued, it will help Kochi police in tracking down the accused with the help of the UAE police. Subsequently, either a team would be sent to bring him back or he could be deported.

It was earlier reported that Kerala Police had contacted Interpol to extradite him and official procedures for the same were launched through the Crime Branch, which is the nodal agency of Interpol in the state.

Babu was booked for rape, in April, based on a complaint filed by a female actor from Kozhikode.

After news broke about the sexual assault allegation, the producer went live on Facebook and spoke about the matter. He flouted the law and openly named the survivor. Thus, another case was also registered against Babu for revealing the identity of a rape victim. The investigation in this case against Babu for revealing the survivor’s identity is said to be in the last stage.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Babu had moved the Kerala High Court seeking pre-arrest bail in the rape case. His anticipatory bail plea will be heard on May 18, when the court resumes its session after the summer break.

Dhanush Paternity Row: As Madras HC Summons Actor, Here’s a Look Back at the Case History

Actor Dhanush, who was last seen in the Tamil film Maaran, has been summoned by the Madras High Court, in relation to a long-pending case concerning his paternity.

As is widely believed and asserted by the actor himself, Dhanush is the son of Tamil filmmaker Kasthuri Raja and his wife Vijayalakshmi. He was born as Venkatesh Prabhu to the couple on July 28, 1983. Dhanush made his acting debut in 2002 with Thulluvadho Ilamai helmed by Kasthuri Raja. The actor’s older brother is filmmaker Selvaraghavan, who has collaborated with him on numerous projects like Kaadhal Kondein (2003) and Pudhupettai (2006).

However, in 2016, Dhanush’s paternity was called into question when an elderly couple named R Kathiresan and K Meenakshi from Melur, Tamil Nadu, claimed that Dhanush was their estranged biological son, who ran away to Chennai in order to become an actor.

Silverscreen India brings to you a timeline of this case over the years.

November 2016: R Kathiresan and K Meenakshi from Melur file a petition with the Madurai bench of the Madras High court, alleging that Dhanush is their third son, born as Saravana Prabhu. In their petition, the couple claim that he ran away from home when he was a teenager, and began to work for filmmaker Kasthuri Raja in Chennai. When they attempted to see Dhanush in the city, they were prevented from doing so by Raja, they further allege. The couple also demand a monthly maintenance sum of Rs 65000 from Dhanush.

January 2017: Dhanush approaches the Madras HC to quash the case filed by the couple. In his petition, Dhanush denies he is their son and insists that he was born as Venkatesh Prabhu to Kasthuri Raja and Vijayalakshmi at the Children’s Hospital in Egmore, Chennai, on July 28, 1983, and later changed his name after entering the film industry. Dhanush terms the couple’s petition a case of blackmail.

February 2017: The couple stick to their claim that Dhanush is their biological son and claim that the actor produced a fake birth certificate in court. Dhanush, meanwhile, argues that the magistrate should not have summoned him without any prima facie evidence and on the basis of a mere complaint filed by the couple. He asks the court to dispense with his appearance and dismiss the case. In a counter-affidavit, the couple claim to have sufficient evidence to prove that Dhanush is their son, if a trial is conducted.

March 2017: The couple file a fresh petition asking for a DNA test to be conducted. In view of this, the Madurai bench of Madras HC stays all further proceedings. Meanwhile, Kasthuri Raja denies the allegations made by the couple and affirms that Dhanush is indeed his son. Terming the couple’s claims “baseless,” Kasthuri Raja notes that he has been in the public eye since 1991 and everyone knows that Dhanush is his son. The case is adjourned to April.

April 2017: Despite his refusal to undergo a DNA test citing privacy reasons, Dhanush wins the paternity case. Reports suggest that he won the case as there were no birthmarks on the actor’s body as claimed by the couple. Kasthuri Raja says that though the paternity claim did not bother him as he knew it was ‘baseless’, Dhanush being dragged to court concerned him.

October 2017: Dhanush is accused of presenting fake documents in court by the couple. They file a complaint against the actor with the Ko Pudur Police Station in Madurai. Kathiresan alleges that the actor had produced fake birth certificate and education certificates during the hearing of the paternity case. He also vows to continue the legal battle until a resolution is found. The couple appeal to the Chennai Commissioner of Police to intervene on their behalf and instruct the Ko Pudur police station to register the case.

January 2019: Madurai bench of the HC orders that a notice be sent to Dhanush, and the Madurai police seeks explanation from the actor about the false document charges made by the couple.

March 2019: The couple file a petition with the Supreme Court, appealing for the paternity case to be transferred from the Madurai bench of the Madras HC to either Kerala or Karnataka.

December 2020: Madurai Judicial Magistrate VI Court states that no evidence was found to support the claim that the documents presented by Dhanush were forged. Noting that no prima facie case was made, the court dismisses Kathiresan’s petition.

May 2022: The elderly couple moves the Madras High Court, again alleging that the actor had forged the documents he submitted to court. They also ask for the 2020 order to be quashed. The court summons Dhanush.

Shwetha Menon, Kukku Prameshwaran Quit ICC over AMMA’s Inaction in Vijay Babu Rape Case

After actor Maala Parvathi, actors Shwetha Menon and Kukku Prameshwaran resigned, on Tuesday, from their posts on the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of AMMA (Association of Malayalam Movie Artists) in protest over the organisation not taking any action against actor-producer Vijay Babu, who was recently charged in a rape case.

In her resignation letter, Menon, who was the presiding officer of the ICC, said that she believed there is no relevance for the committee in the organisation.

Speaking to the media after resigning on Monday, Parvathi said that the ICC had recommended suspending Babu as he violated the law by naming the victim publicly on social media. “I thought the executive committee would consider this. The press release issued by AMMA said that Babu has volunteered to stay away from the association, but it does not mention that the association had sought the resignation letter from him. This is not disciplinary action. I doubt if this sends out the right message to society,” she added.

Babu was elected late last year as an executive committee member of AMMA for the 2021-2024 term. Last month, he was charged in a sexual assault case based on a complaint filed by a female actor from Kozhikode. The accused subsequently went live on Facebook and spoke about the matter. In violation of the law, Babu revealed the survivor’s identity by openly naming her.

Instead of suspending him, the AMMA announced that the actor had written to them stating that he wanted to stay away from the executive committee in view of the allegations levelled against him. “His letter has been discussed and accepted by the committee,” the association added.

In conversation with TNM, Parvathi said, “AMMA asking Vijay Babu to resign and Vijay Babu offering to resign as if he is extending a courtesy are two different things.” She further added, “Many members of AMMA believe that this is a war between men and women, it is not.”

“Being a committee member is a huge responsibility and it can only be done if the committee is autonomous. But now, I doubt whether I can deliver my responsibilities as per my conscience,” Parvathi said, in her resignation letter.

The AMMA’s soft stance has been criticised by the Women in Cinema Collective as well. The WCC, an organisation of women working in Malayalam cinema, earlier demanded that all film bodies suspend Babu’s membership in light of the rape charge. 

It is notable that the formation of the ICC in AMMA came three and a half years after the WCC moved the Kerala High Court seeking the same and just a week before the order mandating it was passed by the High Court.

It was only on March 10, 2022, that the AMMA finally established the ICC to address the grievances of its members. And now, of the four members of the committee, all except actor Rachana Narayanankutty have stepped down.

This has put the spotlight back on the patriarchal nature of AMMA. The association has a history of inaction in similar circumstances.

AMMA and the 2017 female actor assault case

On February 17, a female actor who predominantly works in Malayalam and Kannada cinema was abducted and sexually assaulted in a moving car by a gang of men while en route to Kochi from Thrissur.

Malayalam actor Dileep was accused of being the chief conspirator behind the incident. Instead of calling out the accused or ousting him from the association, several members of AMMA including Mukesh, Innocent, Devan, Edavela Babu, and Siddique, spoke in defence of Dileep.

Actor Siddique, while speaking about association’s decision to not suspend Dileep, had said “Do they mean to say Dileep should never work? How can a film union deny a person’s right to work?” When cited examples of Bollywood actors who had decided not to work with those accused of sexual harassment, he retorted, “How can they do that based on ‘random’ allegations by women?”

Dileep was eventually arrested in the case on July 10, 2017. Following this, AMMA leaders held an emergency meeting at actor Mammootty’s residence in Kochi and decided to finally suspend Dileep’s membership. He was then serving as the association’s treasurer.

Dileep was released on bail on October 3. Following this, when actor Mohanlal took charge as AMMA’s new president in 2018, one of the first decisions of the new leadership was to revoke Dileep’s suspension.

This led to four members of the WCC – actors  Rima KallingalGeethu Mohandas, Ramya Nambeesan, and the survivor – resigning in protest from the AMMA. They declared that they would continue fighting for justice outside the AMMA.

Later, in 2020, actor Parvathy Thirovothu also announced her resignation from AMMA, protesting against the association’s general secretary Edavela Babu’s comments on the survivor of the sexual assault.

WCC’s fight outside AMMA

It was in the aftermath of the 2017 incident that a group of female artists and technicians from the Malayalam film industry, including actors Manju WarrierParvathy ThiruvothuRima KallingalGeethu Mohandas, and editor Bina Paul, announced the formation of the WCC.

They met Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and raised concerns about problems faced by women in the film industry. The WCC also began a social media campaign called Avalodoppam (With Her), in solidarity with the survivor. On November 1, 2017, the WCC was registered as a society in Kerala.

Since its establishment, the WCC has fought two major battles. One of these was the establishment of the ICC/Grievance Redressal Cell in the Malayalam film industry and to this end, in 2018, they filed a PIL. In February 2022, the Kerala Women Commission supported this and added itself as a respondent in the petition.

On March 17, 2022, the High Court ordered film production houses and film bodies in the Malayalam industry to form ICCs as per the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) PoSH Act, 2013.

WCC’s other fight has been to get the government to release the Hema Committee report and its findings.

On July 1, 2017, the Kerala government established the Justice Hema Committee to study the issues of gender disparity, sexual harassment, and other issues faced by women in the Malayalam film industry and propose recommendations. Many women testified before the commission, which was headed by retired judge Hema. A report was submitted to the government on December 31, 2019. Since then, the members of WCC have been constantly pushing for the publication of the report.

Recently, the National Commission for Women (NCW) urged the Kerala government to publish the recommendations and observations in the Hema Committee report.

The WCC members were also invited to participate in a meeting convened on Wednesday by Saji Cherian, Kerala’s Minister for Culture, to discuss the issue.

The publication of the report is expected to throw further light on the issues faced by women working in the Malayalam film industry.

Dave Chappelle Attacked at ‘Netflix Is a Joke’ Fest; Chris Rock Jokes That Assailant was Will Smith

Stand-up comedian Dave Chappelle, who was called out last year for his transphobic remarks in a Netflix special, was attacked at the ‘Netflix Is a Joke’ festival on Tuesday.

Videos circulating on social media appear to show Chappelle giving his final commentary, when a person jumps on to the stage and runs towards him. “He tackled Dave and they both went to the floor and began wrestling when everyone ran onstage to help, including Dave’s security,” an attendee wrote on Twitter.

The unidentified person was grabbed by several people and was taken backstage. Chappelle returned shortly after, unhurt. He joked about the incident and said that it was trans man.

Comedian Chris Rock came up on stage following the incident, and alluding to his recent experience at the Oscars, jokingly asked, “Was that Will Smith?” Smith had slapped Rock at the Oscars after the latter had cracked a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s medical condition.

Aside from Rock, actor Jamie Foxx, who was also present at the show, climbed up on stage and Chappelle said, “Whenever you’re in trouble, Jamie Foxx will show up in a sheriff’s hat.”

In response, Foxx said, “I thought that was part of the show.” He went on to add, “Listen, I just want to say this man is an absolute genius. We’ve got to make sure we protect him at all times. For every comedian who comes out here, this means everything. You’re a genius. You’re a legend, and we’re not going to let nothing happen to you.”

Unverified clips of policemen escorting someone on stretcher to an ambulance are also doing rounds. Those sharing the clips claim that it was the attacker.

In October 2021, Chappelle came under fire for his transphobic remarks in his Netflix special, The Closer. He also referred to himself as being a part of ‘Team TERF’ (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist).

Throughout the performance, while Chappelle called himself and other cis heterosexual Black people as “Blacks,” he referred to the LGBTQIA+ individuals as “niggas”- an offensive term for Black people in America.

While he was called out by netizens and Netflix employees alike, Netlfix and its content head Ted Sarandos refused to censure Chappelle or take down his show.

Even though Sarandos later admitted to not having dealt with the matter well, Netflix went on to expand its collaboration with Chappelle and announced a new series of comedy specials with him.

NCW Urges Kerala Govt to Publish Hema Committee Findings

The National Commission for Women (NCW) has urged the Kerala government to publish the recommendations and observations in the Hema Committee report. 

Headed by retired judge Hema, the committee was formed on July 1, 2017, by Kerala’s Department of Cultural Affairs, in the aftermath of the Malayalam female actor abduction and sexual assault incident.

Its aim was to study gender disparity, sexual harassment, and other such issues faced by women in the Malayalam film industry. Many women submitted their testimonies before the commission. A report was subsequently submitted to the government on December 31, 2019. However, it has not been made public so far.

On Monday, Rekha Sharma, Chairperson of NCW, sent a letter addressed to Kerala’s Chief Secretary VP Joy reminding the government to share the recommendations and observations of the Hema Committee report with the public at the earliest. 

The NCW noted that they had earlier sent a letter on March 22, requesting the release of the Hema Committee to the public without disclosing the details of the victims, but this was not complied with. The letter added that a response had to be submitted now within 15 days.

Further, Sharma said that if the report does not reach them within the stipulated time, the NCW will set up an independent enquiry into the matter. 

Meanwhile, P Rajeev, Kerala’s Minister for Law, Industries and Coir, told The Indian Express that the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) did not want the Hema Committee report to be published, and only wanted the recommendations in it to be implemented.

He added, “Justice Hema Committee Report was not tabled in the assembly, as the committee was not appointed as per the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952. The identity of individuals who gave testimonies before the committee cannot be revealed and WCC also supported this decision of the government and the Hema Committee. The priority is to implement the recommendations made by the committee.”

However, the WCC refuted the statement made by the minister and shared a letter submitted during a meeting with him on January 21.

Stating that they take the Hema committee and its report very seriously, WCC said, “When we observed that in spite of so much money, time, and effort spent on the report there was no action, WCC approached various government agencies. We raised our voices and concerns regarding the silence from the side of the government. It is not enough to produce recommendations without the context of the findings. The case studies (removing the names and other details of the survivors), which have led to these recommendations, must be known.”

The WCC further added that its members will be participating in a meeting tomorrow convened by Saji Cherian, Kerala’s Minister for Culture. 

The WCC was formed by a group of female artists and technicians from the Malayalam film industry, including actors Manju WarrierParvathy ThiruvothuRima KallingalGeethu Mohandas, and editor Bina Paul, in the aftermath of the 2017 female actor sexual assault incident.

The organisation successfully fought for the establishment of ICC/Grievance Redressal Cell in the Malayalam film industry. The Kerala High Court passed an order to that effect, recently. Another of the WCC’s long-term battles has been to make the Hema committee report public.

Vijay Babu Steps Down from AMMA in Light of Rape Case; Maala Parvathi Resigns from ICC

Malayalam actor-producer Vijay Babu has stepped down from the executive committee of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) in the wake of being charged in a rape case.

AMMA announced that the actor wrote to the organisation stating that he wanted to stay away from the executive committee in view of the allegations levelled against him. “His letter has been discussed and accepted by the committee,” the association added.

Babu was elected late last year as an executive committee member of AMMA for the 2021-2024 term.

The producer has been charged in a sexual assault case based on a complaint filed by a female actor. The survivor, a native of Kozhikode, has alleged that Babu physically abused and sexually exploited her between March 13 and April 14, this year.

A second case was also lodged against Babu after he disclosed the survivor’s name in a Facebook Live session in contravention of the law against revealing the identity of rape victims. Soon after, another woman accused the actor of sexual misconduct in an anonymous post.

The Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) had earlier put out a statement demanding that Malayalam film organisations take action against Babu by suspending his membership.

Babu, who absconded shortly after the rape case was filed, is said to be hiding in Dubai in order to avoid arrest. It has been reported that Kerala Police have contacted Interpol to extradite him. Official procedures for this are said to have been launched through the Crime Branch, which is the nodal agency of Interpol in the state.

Meanwhile, theatre and film actor Maala Parvathi has decided to resign from the Internal Committee (ICC) of the AMMA in the wake of the association’s failure to take action against Babu. “I was happy to be a part of it. It is not just a grievance redressal committee, but has to implement policies to prevent harassment. It also has to recommend actions to be taken. And it is legally binding that the members behave appropriately. Being a committee member is a huge responsibility and it can only be done if the committee is autonomous. But now, I doubt whether I can deliver my responsibilities as per my conscience,” she said, in her resignation letter.

Road in Chennai Named After Late Comedian Vivekh

Greater Chennai Corporation recently renamed a road in Virugambakkam as Chinna Kalaivanar Vivek Street to honour Tamil actor-comedian Vivekh who died last year.

The renamed road is one that the late comedian resided on. It falls under Zone 10, Ward 128 of the Kodambakkam zone.

Vivekh died on April 17, 2021. He succumbed to cardiac arrest. While there were speculations that his death was connected to his vaccination for Covid-19, since he had taken the vaccine a few days before his demise, a Union government report issued later refuted the rumours that his death was caused due to the vaccination.

In a career spanning over three decades, Vivekh primarily worked as a comedian in the Tamil film industry. A strong advocate of planting trees, and an ardent follower of former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalaam, the late actor’s comedies were packed with social messages and thought-provoking one-liners. In his comedy tracks, he talked about caste oppression, women’s rights, and the folly of superstitions, all while not being preachy. He worked alongside the likes of RajinikanthVijayVikramSuriya, Madhava, and Dhanush, and was set to collaborate with Kamal Haasan for the first time in the upcoming Shankar-directorial Indian 2.

To commemorate the first death anniversary of Vivekh, a government order was issued by the Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department Secretary Shiv Das Meena to rename Padmavathi Nagar Main Road in Virugambakkam, where the late actor lived along with his family, as ‘Chinna Kalaivanar Vivek Street’ in his honour.

The order was passed based on a request that the residents of the street and Nadigar Sangam Vice-Chairperson Poochi S Murugan had placed before the City Corporation Commissioner.

The order stated that although the state government had set aside the exercise of renaming roads and streets for a while, a resolution was passed to rename the Virugambakkam street as Chinna Kalaivanar Vivek Street based on popular demand.

Rs 200 Cr Money Laundering Case: ED Verifies Assets Worth Over Rs 7 Cr Belonging to Actor Jacqueline Fernandez

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has verified assets worth over Rs 7 crores belonging to actor Jacqueline Fernandez, in connection to the Rs 200 crore money laundering case involving con man Sukesh Chandrashekhar.

ED stated, “During this investigation, it was revealed that Sukesh Chandrasekhar had given various gifts worth Rs 5.71 crores to Jacqueline Fernandez, from the proceeds of criminal activities including extortion. Sukesh Chandrasekhar had used Pinky Irani, his long-time associate and co-accused in the case, to deliver the said gifts to her.”

“In addition to these gifts, Chandrasekhar had also given funds worth USD 172,913 and AUD 26,740 to close family members of Jacqueline Fernandez, earned through criminal activities, through co-accused Avtar Singh Kochhar, an established and well-known international hawala operator,” ED noted.

It was stated that Chandrashekhar had reportedly paid Rs 15 lakh to a scriptwriter on behalf of Fernandez, as an advance payment for a webseries under development.

The Attack actor has been linked to Chandrashekhar and has appeared thrice before the ED.

As per a chargesheet filed by ED, Fernandez received expensive gifts from Chandrashekhar and she confirmed the same. She alleged that he had approached her under the pretext of being the owner of Sun TV.

Chandrashekhar’s connection with Fernandez was highlighted, after their personal photos were circulated in the media.

The actress denied the “alleged slanderous statements” that were made about her relationship with Chandrashekhar and his wife Leena Maria Paul.

She spoke about the same on Instagram, and wrote, “This country and its people have always given me tremendous love and respect. This includes my friends from the media, from whom I have learned a lot. I am currently going through a rough patch but I am sure that my friends and fans will see me through it. It is with this trust that I would request my media friends to not circulate images of a nature that intrude my privacy and personal space. You would not do this to your own loved ones, am sure you would not do this to me either. Hoping that justice and good sense prevails. Thank you.”

Chandrashekhar has over 20 cases registered against him and was also reportedly managing the extortion cases, when he was in jail. He was earlier arrested in 2017 for attempting to bribe the Election Commission.

Aside from Fernandez, actor Nora Fatehi was also summoned by the ED for questioning in the case, after Chandrashekhar had revealed that he had gifted her a luxury car. However, Fatehi’s representatives maintained that she is a victim the case.

Angelina Jolie Visits Survivors at Ukraine, Including Children

Actor Angelina Jolie, who won an Oscar for her performance in the film Girl, Interrupted, has arrived at Ukraine on Saturday, to meet with survivors who had taken refuge in the city of Lviv.

Jolie, who is a special envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has spent two decades working with the UN off-shoot.

Her visit follows Russia’s three-pronged invasion on Ukraine in February. The countries have been engaged in a war, since.

The constant incendiary attacks on Ukrainian cities have led to multiple deaths and a subsequent refugee crisis.

Jolie visited the country to meet with displaced people, including children, who were undergoing treatment for injuries sustained during the missile strikes at the Kramatorsk railway station, in early April.

Accompanied by Maksym Kozytsky, Lviv’s regional governor, Jolie visited the central station and met with volunteers who were working with the displaced. They told her that each of the psychiatrists on duty spoke to close to 15 people a day. It was reported that many of those at the station were children aged from two to ten, according to the volunteers.

Further, Jolie reportedly visited a boarding school, where she had interacted with the students, took photos with them, and also promised that she would return.

“The visit was a surprise to us all. Plenty of people who saw Ms. Jolie in the Lviv region could not believe that it was really her. But since February 24, Ukraine has shown the entire world that there are plenty of incredible things here,” Kozytsky said.

However, Jolie’s visit was short-lived, as she was reportedly interrupted by air-raid sirens, and had to leave the station.

This is not the first time that a Hollywood actor has visited the war-torn country.

Earlier in February, it was reported that Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn had traveled to Ukraine to film a documentary on Russia’s invasion of the country. The documentary is produced by Vice Studios in association with Vice World News and Endeavor Content.

Penn had first visited the country in November 2021, to do some research for the film and at the time, he was documented being escorted around by the Ukrainian military.

On his last trip, Penn visited the President’s office and met with Iryna Vereshchuk, the Deputy Prime Minister, local journalists and members of the Ukrainian military.

Another Woman Accuses Vijay Babu of Misconduct; Producer Files for Pre-Arrest Bail after Feeling Country

Vijay Babu, the Malayalam actor-producer recently charged in a rape case, has been accused of sexual misconduct by a second woman. 

A few days back, Babu was charged in a sexual assault case based on a complaint filed by a female actor. A native of Kozhikode, the survivor has alleged that Babu physically abused and sexually exploited her between March 13 and April 14, this year.

Now, on Friday, another woman shared an anonymous account on Facebook of the time Babu had misbehaved with her. She stated that she had a work-related meeting with the producer in November 2021. When a friend who was also present in the room at the time had stepped out for something, Babu took advantage of the opportunity and leaned in to kiss her on the lips, she added.

“He was drinking alcohol and offered me some as well. I refused and continued working. Suddenly, he just leaned in to kiss me on my lips, without any question, without any consent. Luckily, my reflex action was super quick and I just pulled back and maintained a distance from him. I looked into his face, and he then asked me, ‘Just one kiss?’ I stood up and said no. He started apologising and requested me to not tell anyone,” she said, adding that she had agreed not to as she was scared and had immediately left the place.

The woman noted that even though he did not force her to do anything, his behaviour was still “cheap and scary” as she had hardly known him for 20-30 minutes when he made his move.

She also claimed that she discontinued her work because of this incident. “I just stopped taking efforts to enter the Malayalam film industry after this, which was a dream for me until then.” She added that removing or punishing people like him would help break the image that the film industry is “not safe for women.”

The woman further said that she had decided to speak out about the incident after learning that someone was raped by Babu. She added that she would stand by the survivor, who deserves justice.

Meanwhile, Kochi City Police Commissioner Nagaraju Chakilam told the media on Friday that Babu had fled to Dubai from Bengaluru on April 24. The commissioner further said that Babu has not come back yet, but they are expecting him to surrender before the law. 

“He is an established person, so he has to come back. We have taken his passport details and travel details. The investigation is in progress. We are identifying more witnesses in the case. We have requested the court to impound his passport if he does not come forward. He has to cooperate with the investigation,” Chakilam added.

The police officer stated that a written notice has already been issued and they have also collected CCTV footage. Other evidence is being gathered as well. “There are certain instances where people are saying this and that happened [other accusations against Babu]. So far, no other complaints have been registered, but we hope we will get those complaints as well.”

Earlier, after news broke about the sexual assault allegation, Babu went live on Facebook and spoke about the matter. In contravention of the law, he revealed the survivor’s identity by openly naming her. He also claimed innocence and threatened to file a case of defamation against her.

On Friday, Babu moved the Kerala High Court seeking anticipatory bail in the rape case filed against him. In his petition, he alleged that the complainant meant to blackmail him with the rape allegation. He further claimed that the actor used to call him at odd hours and sent abusive messages to him. 

He added that he fears arrest by the police in this case and sought anticipatory bail, noting that he was prepared to abide by any conditions imposed by the court and would cooperate with the investigation.

The matter is posted to be heard after the court’s ongoing summer vacation ends.

Nothing Like Lear: Director Rajat Kapoor & Actor Vinay Pathak Talk about How a Play Writes Itself

A one-man act. A bustling audience. A theatrical genius at work. This summed up Wednesday night at the Adishakti Theatre’s sixth edition of the Remembering Veenapani festival. Directed by Rajat Kapoor, the crowd at the theatre was witness to the play Nothing Like Lear performed by actor Vinay Pathak.

While the idea behind the act is taken from William Shakespeare’s King Lear, the play itself is nothing like the famed tragedy, which surely does not include a clown in its narrative. But for Kapoor, clowning and Shakespeare have gone hand-in-hand for not only Nothing Like Lear, but also his other acts such as Hamlet – The Clown Prince, Macbeth – What is Done is Done!, and I Don’t Like It.. As You Like It.

Ask him why he’s chosen to adapt so many works of Shakespeare, and Kapoor says the author is “an old friend.” Pathak quips, “We have not been working with him (Shakespeare), he is working with us.”

Unlike King Lear, the act performed at Adishakti is based on the life of an old and depressed clown. Pathak, who played the clown on stage, took the audience on a journey through a few moments from the character’s life and made them laugh, contemplate, and be scared in those 100 minutes. “Clowning does not necessarily mean making people laugh,” says Kapoor, explaining how the act’s comedy could adapt the great tragedy written years ago.

“Take any emotion, a clown will exaggerate it in a certain way which will make the impact stronger. It can be grief, shock, or wonder. Clown is an idea, for me, of purity of form. If I am playing a certain someone, it comes with a baggage of the name, the surname. A clown, however, can be free of that. A clown can be of pure emotion.”

Speaking about how their group started experimenting with clowning, Kapoor says, “We did a play called C For Clown in 1999, it was our first performance that involved clowning. It was just a troupe of clowns and we did not know how the play would do. It was just them performing an improvised piece and that is also when we discovered gibberish. So, we thought what if we did a clown play with gibberish but with a classical text as the background. The first thing we tried with that idea was Hamlet – The Clown Prince. It was received very well and then we came up with Nothing Like Lear. That was followed by adaptations of Macbeth and As You Like It. We’ve had a good run with clowns and Shakespeare.”

As for Pathak, clowning interested him even in his early days of drama school. “I went to drama school where we studied Commedia dell’arte and it was something that stayed with me. I performed Sheridan’s The Rivals, for which I did not have to put on clown makeup, but we did have to paint our faces white because I was told that was how people did their makeup in the 16th, 17th century. During the Elizabethan era, people would have white make-up on their faces and they would walk not in a straight line but more in a clown’s gait. When I came here, Rajat wanted to do a musical, The Threepenny Opera. For that, we practised clown walk, clown fall, clown spit, clown sitting, clown sleeping, and we had so much fun doing it. We did not know if what we were doing was right or wrong, but we had fun with the process and that was when C For Clown emerged.”

Nothing Like Lear, while based on an age-old play, still has been relatable to every audience that watched it on stage. It talks about the estranged relationship of an old father and his daughter who lives far away, while also delving into conversations about depression. “We have done away with the plot of the play. What we are interested in is the relationships and the emotions in the play. A father-daughter relationship will always be relatable. When we were creating this play, Atul (Kumar), Vinay, and I would talk about our relationships with our daughters. The play came out of that. We told our own stories even though we took the basic idea from Shakespeare. After every show, even today, people come up to me and say ‘I am going to call my father right away’,” says Kapoor.

“The whole idea was that we were telling the story of King Lear, but our interpretation was that of a common man,” adds Pathak. “Our idea was that there is this middle-class man who catches the local train every day, goes to work and has three daughters. Once he is home, he is the king of his household. We started exploring the authority of a common man. It is not very different from King Lear who had a ridiculous way of distributing his wealth depending on which daughter loved him more. It is very similar to what fathers could do today.”

“The play writes itself in a way,” says Kapoor. “We don’t write, we work. It is not that anybody sits and writes first. It is created as we are rehearsing. We try a scene and if something like an idea comes out of it, we keep that and try and develop it more. So, the play writes itself in a way. The first draft of the script is ready when the show opens, when we understand how it begins and how it ends. After the play is ready and shows open, then it keeps evolving wherein a bit from one show would eventually become a part of the play.”

Nothing Like Lear has its fair share of comedy as well as powerful scenes like the one where Pathak enacts the clown gouging out the eyes of his step-brother for not having ‘dreamt for 20 years’ and being ignored as an ‘illegitimate’ son, or when he breaks into a Shakespearean monologue while cursing his daughter for throwing him out of her house. But, one of the most interesting ones is when Pathak enters the stage and says, “It hasn’t started yet.”

The small non-introduction where Pathak’s clown is seen just roaming around on the stage and saying, “It hasn’t started yet” was not a part of the show initially. It was, in fact, an improvised act that was written into the play during performances at Mumbai’s Prithvi Theatre. “When we did C For Clown, we were fascinated by the banality of nothing. Usually, there is a formal way of starting a play but we thought what if we came out and said, ‘It has not started yet, just hold on.’ It was the concept of seeing a clown stand and do nothing even though they are expected to jump around, dance, etc.”

While Nothing Like Lear has a bound and structured narrative, Pathak squeezes in moments of comic relief by interacting with the audience and even delivering tailor-made dialogues involving current events (like the slap drama at the Oscars this year). “The audience improves the performance,” says the Bheja Fry actor. “Like today, every expression and every gasp I made up was absorbed by the audience so well. They reacted to everything I did, they laughed at everything I hoped they would laugh at.”

Although Shakespeare and Pathak have worked well for years, Kapoor feels it is time to “move on” now. He is in the process of adapting a novel written by Rajendra Yadav. “This will be the first time I will be adapting from a novel and it is a story that is close to my heart, one that I have grown up reading,” he says.

The Remembering Veenapani festival began on April 5, the birth anniversary of the founder of Adishakti, Veenapani Chawla, and it will go on till May 3.

Vijay Babu Rape Case: WCC Urges Govt to Ensure Survivor’s Safety, Asks Film Bodies to Suspend Accused’s Membership

In light of the rape case against Malayalam producer-actor Vijay Babu, the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) has urged the government to take measures to ensure the safety of the survivor, who is currently being attacked on social media. WCC also demanded that film bodies suspend the accused’s membership from their respective organisations.

Recently, Babu was charged with sexual assault based on a complaint filed by a female actor. The survivor stated that the producer had physically abused and sexually exploited her between March 13 and April 14, this year. 

After news broke about the sexual assault allegation, the accused went live on Facebook on Tuesday night and spoke about the matter. Babu revealed the survivor’s identity by openly naming her in violation of the law against doing so. Claiming innocence, he also threatened to file a defamation suit against her for making those allegations.

On Friday, the WCC questioned why the actor was not in custody despite an arrest warrant being issued against him. The organisation also noted that the accused’s body language during his Facebook Live session included “twirling his moustache like a B-grade film villain during Facebook Live.” 

They further said that Babu had ensured that the survivor would be the target of harassment on social media by naming her multiple times. “Claiming that he was innocent and that he would file a counter case of defamation – he went on to deliberately name the young woman actor again several times, making sure she’d be the target of vicious social media mobs. Vijay Babu taking the survivor’s name illegally has opened doors for mass social media attacks and shaming of the survivor.”

The WCC has requested the cyber cell and Vanitha Commission to act upon this matter urgently. Noting that the “debasement of women” through social media is reaching its lowest depths, the organisation urged the government to take responsibility for the survivor’s safety and requested all authorities to take serious note of this and act accordingly.

Aside from this, the WCC also pointed out that the Malayalam film industry, and the associations that the accused is a member of, have continued to stay silent through all this. “No one from the industry wants to say anything about this powerful, well-connected man. And it is this very silence that makes sure more and more women are exploited and assaulted in the industry,” they noted.

Stating that they are “appalled at this silence,” the WCC added that this silence from associations comes in spite of the recent judgement of the Kerala High Court directing them to implement the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2013 in the Malayalam film industry.

“We demand that the Industry and all the allied Associations take a serious note of this and the membership of Vijay Babu in all Film Bodies be suspended until there is a verdict. Unless they take action against him for his brazenly illegal act of victim shaming in public, their stand as industry organisations is problematic,” the WCC said.

The WCC also pointed out that in the aftermath of the 2017 female actor abduction and sexual assault incident, some of those in the industry had claimed to ‘stand with the survivor and pray for the accused’. “If they choose to stay silent now, should we assume that he is twirling his moustache and speaking on behalf of all of them?” WCC questioned.

It may be noted that Babu was elected to the executive committee of AMMA (Association of Malayalam Movie Artists) for the 2021-2024 term.

The WCC also reiterated the need for the immediate implementation of the POSH Act in Malayalam film productions and a zero-tolerance policy with regard to sexual harassment across the industry.

Astroworld Tragedy: Organiser Concerned about Unreleased Documentary Influencing Potential Jurors in Court Battle

Live Nation, which is facing hundreds of lawsuits along with rapper Travis Scott over the Astroworld concert tragedy, is concerned that an upcoming documentary on the incident might influence the jury pool.

The organiser and Scott came under fire after a crowd surge at the event led to a stampede that crushed attendees. The incident left 10 dead, eight of whom succumbed the same night. Multiple people were injured as well.

Astroworld concert was held on November 5 and saw a turnout of 50,000 people.

Soon after news of the deaths broke, social media was flooded with videos of the victims and other attendees dropping unconscious, or being taken away by paramedics.

Both Scott and the organisers have been slapped with hundreds of lawsuits alleging negligence and misconduct.

Now, with the civil litigation still pending in court, Live Nation’s lawyers have said that the documentary, Concert Crush: The Travis Scott Festival Tragedy, and the publicity generated from it could “taint the jury pool.”

They have also noted that Rick Ramos, one of the lawyers representing some of the victims’ families, is one of the co-producers of the documentary film.

“The involvement of plaintiffs’ lawyers in the film, and the publicity the filmmakers and producers are trying to generate for it, raise significant issues about efforts to taint the jury pool,” lawyers Neal Manne and Kevin Yankowsky noted in the letter they wrote to District Judge Kristen Hawkins, who is hearing the matter.

However, Live Nation’s attorneys have not sought any legal action against the documentary that is scheduled to release in 11 states in the US, on Friday.

The film’s director, Charlie Minn, said that the documentary is not a “hit piece” aimed at Travis Scott and added that it highlights the shortcomings on the part of the organisers as well as Scott.

“My job is to make the most truthful, honest, sincere documentary from the victim’s point of view. We need to know about these stories to prevent it from happening again,” Minn told AP.

The film highlights the experiences of concert-goers and what led to the Astroworld incident, in the aftermath of which Scott was removed from the lineup of Coachella.

“It’s hard to explain to friends and family what we saw and what we actually went through and I think (the documentary) will give a lot of people the opportunity, if you weren’t there, to understand,” said Frank Alvarez, who had attended the concert.

Gujarat HC Quashes 2017 ‘Raees’ Stampede Case Against Shah Rukh Khan

The Gujarat High Court has quashed the criminal case filed against actor Shah Rukh Khan with regard to the alleged stampede that took place during the promotions of Raees in 2017.

The case dates back to when Khan was promoting his Hindi film Raees, and a stampede took place at the Vadodara railway station, leading to a person’s death. Khan was reportedly travelling from Mumbai to Delhi by train at the time and during a halt at the Vadodara station, a huge crowd had gathered around to see the actor. Khan had waved at the crowd and thrown ‘t-shirts’ and ‘smiley balls’ to them. This allegedly led to the stampede, as a result of which several were injured and one person died. The situation was controlled only by the intervention of the police.

Following the incident, a local politician named Jitendra Solanki filed a complaint with the Gujarat police against Khan. An FIR was registered under Sections 336, 337, and 338 of the Indian Penal Code for endangering the safety of self or others and Sections 145, 150, 152, 154 and 155 (1) (a) of the Railways Act, 1989.

Khan had then approached the Gujarat High Court to quash the FIR registered against him.

During the previous hearing of his plea in February, the Gujarat High Court had observed that it was preferable for the actor to apologise rather than to face trial in the case.

Prior to Wednesday’s hearing, the legal heirs of the deceased person, Farhana Farid Khan Pathan, had moved the High Court seeking to be impleaded as respondents in the same complaint.

However, the court observed that since no independent complaint was filed by them, the court order was not challenged and the process was not issued for offences punishable under Section 304A (causing death by negligence) of the IPC. The court ruled that since no actions were taken in the past five years, it would not allow them to be added as respondents in the case.

The High Court also noted that as per the investigation report, the doctor had stated that the victim’s death was caused by a cardiac arrest and that the family of the deceased had refused a post-mortem.

Further, Khan’s counsel argued that there were multiple causes for the incident and none of the actor’s actions could be termed as the “proximate cause” for the stampede at the station, emphasising that there was a lack of evidence against him. Khan’s counsel also argued that neither the chaotic situation nor the actor’s negligence was the reason behind the death of the person.

The court thus revoked the case against Khan, noting that his actions during the promotions were neither extremely high in negligence or recklessness, nor were they the effective cause of the alleged incident.

Salim Ghouse, Multilingual Film and TV Actor, Dies at 70

Salim Ghouse, the multilingual film and television actor who has appeared in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and English movies, died on Thursday morning after suffering a cardiac arrest. He was 70.

The news of his demise was confirmed to Silverscreen India by Nanjil, director of the upcoming Tamil film, Kaa, starring the late actor. “He suffered a cardiac arrest and died today morning. He died in Mumbai where he was residing with his wife and children,” the filmmaker added.

According to Indian Express, Ghouse’s wife Anita Salim said that the actor experienced chest pain on Wednesday night and was taken to Kokilaben Hospital, Mumbai. However, he subsequently passed away the following morning. “He hated grieving and wanted life to go on. He didn’t suffer. He wouldn’t have liked being dependent on anyone. He was a man with a lot of self-respect. He was a multifaceted actor, a martial artist, an actor, a director, and a lovely chef in the kitchen,” she added.

Ghouse was born in Chennai and made his debut on the big screen with the 1978 Hindi film Swarg Narak. He went on to act in a handful of Hindi films, including Chakra (1981), Saaransh (1984), and Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho! (1984), before featuring in his first Tamil film, Vettri Vizhaa (1989). He played the antagonist in the film that featured actors Kamal Haasan and Prabhu, among others. Ghouse also branched out into Malayalam cinema and appeared in the 1990 thriller film Thazhvaram, starring Mohanlal.

Other notable Tamil films in his career include Vettaikaaran (2009), where he essayed an antagonist opposite Vijay, Mani Ratnam’s Thiruda Thiruda (1993), and Red (2002) alongside Ajith Kumar.

The late actor made his television debut with the 1984 Hindi sitcom Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi. He also collaborated with Shyam Benegal on Bharat Ek Khoj, a 53-episode historical drama based on the book The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru.

Ghouse has also worked as a dubbing artist.

He will be posthumously seen in Kaa alongside actor-singer Andrea Jeremiah, portraying the role of an assassin. “His portions have been completed. He was a director’s artist and was very prompt in his work,” said Nanjil.

Supreme Court Declines SJ Suryah’s Plea for Injunction Against Hindi Remake of Ajith-Starrer ‘Vaalee’

A Supreme Court bench on Thursday has dismissed a plea from filmmaker-actor SJ Suryah to grant an injunction against the remake of the hit Tamil film Vaalee (1999), upholding the order of the Madras High Court.

The case was heard by Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna.

Vaalee, which starred Ajith Kumar in dual roles, also featured actors Simran and Jyothika in her Tamil debut. The film, which marks Suryah’s directorial debut, was a commercial success and went on to become a defining film in the careers of the director and actors involved. The film revolved around twin brothers, with one being the evil one. The film was produced by SS Chakravarthy.

In 2021, it was reported that producer Boney Kapoor had acquired the rights to remake the film in Hindi. Following this, Suryah approached the Madras High Court seeking the copyrights of the film, as he has written the story of the film. However, the court had declared that “merely because the producer gave credit to the author for screenplay or dialogue, it would not amount to an acknowledgment of the author’s copyright therein.” The court was also in view that the producer is the copyright owner of the film.

Subsequently, Suryah moved the Supreme Court against Vaalee’s producer, claiming his credits for having written the story, screenplay, and dialogues of the film. In its order, the Supreme Court upheld the high court’s ruling and refused to grant an injunction on the remake of Vaalee. The bench stated that Suryah’s counsel was “unable to convince” the court on why the injunction had to be granted. “We had gone through the impugned judgment and the order passed by the High Court. No interference of this Court is called for, insofar as refusing to grant the injunction is concerned,” the Supreme Court noted.

It was also reported that, even though it upheld the High Court’s order, if Suryah “succeeds in the suit and establishes his right”, he could claim relief.

Hindi Row: Here’s What Sparked Ajay Devgn & Kiccha Sudeep’s Twitter Posts About India’s National Language

On Wednesday, a row surrounding India’s national language erupted on Twitter, after Hindi actor Ajay Devgn said Hindi “was, is and always will be our mother tongue and national language,” in response to a statement made by actor Kichcha Sudeepa

Recently, Kannada actor Sudeepa, spoke about pan-Indian films at the film launch of R: The Deadliest Gangster Ever. “It is being said that a pan-Indian film was made in Kannada. I’d like to make a small correction. Because Hindi is no more the national language. They (Hindi industry) are doing pan-Indian films, by dubbing them in Telugu and Tamil. Today, we just make films that reach everywhere,” he added. 

It may be noted that KGF: Chapter 2 was called a pan-Indian film for catering to all regions across the country and subsequently had groundbreaking records at the box office.

Following this, Devgn took to Twitter and wrote a counter-statement in Hindi. Questioning Sudeepa, he said, “If Hindi was not our national language, then why do you dub and release the films in your mother tongue films, in Hindi?” He went on to claim that Hindi was, is and always will be the mother tongue and national language. 

Devgn was called out by the public as well as many prominent people on Twitter. Siddaramaiah, Former Chief Minister of Karnataka, said, “Hindi was never and will never be our national language. It is the duty of every Indian to respect the linguistic diversity of our country. Each language has its own rich history for its people to be proud of. I am proud to be a Kannadiga!!”

Criticising Devgn’s remarks, actor Divya Spandana wrote that his “ignorance is baffling” and noted that films like KGF, Pushpa and RRR have done so well in the Hindi belt as “art has no language barrier.” 

Several others corrected Devgn saying that films are dubbed in Hindi and other languages simply because of the market and not because Hindi is the “national language.” The actor was also asked to “read the constitution or get his tweets reviewed for accuracy.”

Another Twitter user made an ironic analysis that Devgn’s career is still relevant because of Drishyam, a remake from Malayalam cinema, Singham from the Tamil film franchise, and starring in RRR and added that the actor is currently working on the remake of the Tamil film Kaithi

Meanwhile, filmmaker Ram Gopal wrote that it is an “undeniable ground truth that the stars from the north are insecure and jealous of the stars down south because a Kannada film KGF Chapter 2, dubbed in so many languages, had a 50 crore opening day”.

Extending support to Sudeepa, HD Kumaraswamy, former Chief Minister of Karnataka, put out a long thread of tweets. In one of them, he said that like Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Marathi, Hindi is also one of the languages. “India is a garden of several languages. Land of multi-cultures. Let there be no attempts to disrupt this.”

In response to Devgn’s tweet, Sudeepa stated that the context in which he said that line was entirely different. He further stated that he did not make that statement “to hurt, provoke or start any debate”.

Pointing out that he understood Devgn’s text written in Hindi, the Kannada actor said that he loves and respects Hindi, and every language in the country.

Following which, Devgn wrote that Sudeepa remains his friend and thanked him for clearing up the misunderstanding, in an attempt to put an end to the conflict. “I’ve always thought of the film industry as one. We respect all languages and we expect everyone to respect our language, as well. Perhaps, something was lost in translation,” he added. 

Concluding the row, Sudeepa said, “translations and interpretations are perspectives” and noted that it would have been a happy moment if he had received a tweet from Devgn, for a creative purpose.

The row on Hindi imposition or the language being referred to as the country’s national language is not new. South Indian states have constantly been voicing against the agenda. In the recent past, Union Minister Amit Shah said that people from different states should communicate with each other in Hindi and not English. He stated that Hindi should be accepted as an alternative to English.

Many including AR Rahman criticised Shah’s statement. Responding to this, Rahman had said, “Tamil is the connecting language.” He also shared an illustration of ‘Thamizhanangu’ or “Goddess Tamil”, via social media. Actor Prakash Raj also said, “Don’t try to break homes Mr Home Minister.” He also urged to stop the imposition of Hindi. 

Sundance Institute Removes Interdisciplinary Program as Part of Cost-Cutting Measures

The Sundance Institute has announced that it will retire its Interdisciplinary Program as part of its measures to cut costs and reduce the scope of operations going forward.

The Institute presents the annual Sundance International Film Festival in Utah, with an emphasis on small-budget, independent creators. This year, CODA became the first Sundance film to win an Oscar for Best Picture.

The last two editions of the festival were held online owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a company memo shared with the staff, Sundance CEO Joana Vicente stated that t shift to a digital-only format has impacted the festival’s funding, and consequently, the programs aimed at supporting artists.

Vicente also revealed the organisation’s plan to cut costs by doing away with some of its pilot programs. As a result of the planned measures, six people will leave Sundance Institute, she noted, adding that those and other open positions will not be filled.

“We are taking great care to help ensure a smooth transition for these employees. We will provide exit packages including severance, COBRA reimbursement, and job placement assistance, as well as other benefits, for those who are leaving the organisation,” said the CEO.

Out of the 12 artist programs offered, the Interdisciplinary Program will be done away with, and its fellowships, residency, and labs, will conclude at the end of the fiscal year.

It is to be noted that in 2020, the Institute consolidated the Film Music, New Frontier Labs, and Theatre programs to create the Interdisciplinary Program. The discontinuation of the program, thus, also means the discontinuation of the three associated programs.

“Additionally, we will also not be able to move forward with the Film Music Program, which has been working with the Interdisciplinary Program as well as nurturing emerging composers and our selected Film Fellows on the art of storytelling and music,” Vicente confirmed.

In addition to the above, Sundance Collab will also be reduced in scope, and take forward only “paid, affordable learning opportunities, while reducing the other areas of programming.”

A free-to-join global learning and story-telling community, Sundance Collab created a digital space for artists to receive opportunities, personalised feedback and resources, while forging connections with new artists.

The initiative’s website cites two plans for creators to choose from, a paid plan of $10 a month, and a free plan. The changes, as announced, will transform the initiative as a paid-only platform. Vicente also noted that the focus of the festival’s year-round artist support will be in the areas of fiction, non-fiction, and episodic storytelling.

The Institute’s Collective department, which was an expansion of the Alumni Program and existed to offer increased networking opportunities and artist resources, will also be discontinued.

Female Actor Assault Case: Kerala Bar Council to Write to State Govt about Leak of Audio Clips

The Bar Council of Kerala has decided to write to the state government regarding the leak of audio clips of confidential conversations between lawyers and their clients in the 2017 female actor abduction and sexual assault case.

Actor Dileep is currently facing trial as the chief conspirator in the abduction and assault case. He is also being investigated for allegedly conspiring to kill the investigating officers in that case.

Recently, an audio clip of a conservation between Dileep’s brother Anoop and one of the actor’s lawyers had surfaced on the internet.

It has been alleged that the cops probing the case are involved in leaking such audio clips to the media.

In one of the audio clips, a lawyer is heard directing Anoop to give false statements in court in favour of Dileep. The lawyer appears to be asking Anoop to testify against actor Manju Warrier, Dileep’s ex-wife.

Following the leak of confidential conversations between the two parties, a complaint was filed by advocate V Sethunath before the bar council. He stated that police officers have “committed illegality” by releasing audio clips with privileged information and has sought legal action against them.

His complaint further pointed out that the Indian Evidence Act provides protection for professional and confidential communication between a client and their legal advisors. The complainant also urged for the issuance of a directive to the police officers to not probe into any confidential conversations sourced by them.

On Sunday, a meeting was convened by the bar council to consider this complaint.

Some lawyers had reportedly approached the council seeking action to protect the lawyers and prevent what they termed as the attempts to derail the process of dispensation of justice.

KN Anilkumar, the chairman of the bar council, said that they are distressed over “the tendency to personally target judges” who were presiding over trials in various cases, and added that they will write to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday, highlighting the issue.

Meanwhile, the survivor in the assault case had reportedly submitted voice clips of Dileep’s lawyers to the Bar Council. This will serve as more evidence against the lawyers. It is learnt that the bar council will seek an explanation from the lawyers over the new evidence.

Earlier, the survivor submitted her complaint to the bar council alleging professional misconduct on the part of actor Dileep’s lawyers. She claimed that they attempted to influence some of the witnesses in the assault case by offering money and property.

Actor-Producer Vijay Babu Charged with Sexual Assault; Flouts Law & Reveals Survivor’s Identity on Facebook Live

Vijay Babu, the Malayalam producer and actor, has been charged in a sexual assault caseA source from the Ernakulam South police station confirmed to Silverscreen India that a complaint has been filed against him and investigation in the matter is underway.

It has been reported that a female actor, a native of Kozhikode, filed the complaint on April 22, following which a case was registered. 

Meanwhile, on Tuesday night, after news broke about the sexual assault allegation, the accused went live on Facebook and spoke about the matter. 

Violating the law, Babu revealed the survivor’s identity by openly naming her. “I am not afraid of this because I have not made any mistakes. I respect the law of the land but here, I am the victim and my name has come out. So, why shouldn’t the other person’s name come out too?” he said.

“Let this be a break to #MeToo,” he added. He further claimed that the complainant got an opportunity to act in his film after attending auditions and that he had never spoken to her at the time. He alleged that the woman messaged him several times and came to meet him as well. He also said that he has 400 screenshots of her messages with him and was ready to make it public.

Babu further added that he will be filing a counter defamation case against the actor. 

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the survivor said, via an anonymous post in a Facebook page named Women Against Sexual Harassment, that she has been working in the Malayalam film industry as an actor for the past few years. She said that Babu had physically abused and sexually exploited her between March 13 and April 14 this year. 

“I have known him for a few years in the industry and we had worked on a movie together. During this time, he gained my trust by being friendly and gave me advice as I was a newcomer with no proper guidance in the industry. He helped me in my personal and professional problems but sexually exploited me under the guise of this. His modus operandi was to lure and trap me by playing the role of a saviour, friend and a lover, and thereafter, intoxicating and sexually abusing me,“ she added.

Further, the survivor said that whenever she was conscious, she had denied him consent, but he had disregarded her protests and had raped her several times. She also claimed that Babu had offered her roles in his upcoming projects and had made false promises of marriage to her.

She added that she was initially afraid to talk about this because of his influence in the industry. “He had recorded a nude video of mine and blackmailed me with it. He also threatened my life. I feared for my safety. But I am not keeping my mouth shut anymore. I can’t take this pain anymore. I strongly believe I will get justice for the sexual and physical assaults inflicted upon me by Vijay Babu.”

The survivor also stated that she would legally deal with all parties who victim-shamed or attacked her over this matter and those who would try to tarnish her image on social media and in public.

Women in Cinema Collective (WCC), an organisation created for women working in the Malayalam film industry, has condemned Babu for publically shaming the survivor. “While committees come and go, more such incidents continue to happen. WCC reiterates that crimes are being perpetrated here, under the guise of professional equations and in the professional space,” they stated.

WCC further mentioned that the right to arbitrate about who the victim is, rests with the judiciary and not anyone else. The organisation stressed that when the accused publicly shames a complainant, it is “deplorable and punishable by law.”

“Flaunting his online presence with such an act without turning himself in seems to be an attempt to mock the judicial system. WCC urges the authorities to take stringent action and hopes the Malayalam film industry will condemn these acts and clean up the workspace for women by distancing itself from the perpetrators,” they concluded.

Female Actor Assault Case: No Leak of Evidence, Document on Dileep’s Phone Not Confidential, Says Court

Ernakulam Additional Special Sessions Court, on Tuesday, ruled that there was no leak of evidence from the court in the 2017 female actor abduction and sexual assault case

Actor Dileep is currently facing trial as the chief conspirator in the abduction and assault case. He is also being investigated for allegedly conspiring to kill the investigating officers in that case.

The crime branch earlier submitted that court documents were found on Dileep’s phone and this indicated a leak of evidence from the court. They also wanted to interrogate the court staff who were responsible for handling the materials to find out if they were influenced by Dileep.

When the matter came up for hearing on Tuesday, the court clarified that the documents found on actor Dileep’s phone were not confidential ones.

Of the documents found on the actor’s phone, one was a dairy of the court, which was neither secret nor evidence. Another was confirmation that a pen drive was sent to a forensic lab for examination as per the request of Dileep’s counsel. 

As for the request of the crime branch seeking to question court staff, the court said there was no need for the police to do so and that the matter would be taken care of by the court itself as it falls under its jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, the petition filed by the crime branch seeking to cancel Dileep’s bail in the actor assault case also came up before the Special Sessions Court on Tuesday. The crime branch has submitted that Dileep violated bail conditions by influencing the witnesses in the case and hence his bail should be revoked. 

However, Dileep’s counsel did not file a counter statement in this matter. As the prosecution stated that they want to argue their side only after a statement was filed by the accused, the hearing of this plea has been adjourned to May 9. Dileep’s petition seeking to initiate contempt of court proceedings against investigation officer Baiju Paulose will also be heard by the court on the same date.

Johnny Depp Says He was a Victim of Domestic Abuse, on Day 8 of His Defamation Trial Against Amber Heard

Johnny Depp said that he was a victim of domestic abuse, on the eighth day of the ongoing defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard.

The case is a consequence of an op-ed piece that Heard wrote in 2018 in The Washington Post about her experiences as a domestic abuse survivor. The ongoing legal battle between Depp and Heard began when the latter filed for divorce in 2016 accusing Depp of domestic abuse. While the duo had reached a settlement on their divorce in 2017, Heard subsequently wrote the op-ed piece, which Depp claims defamed him and resulted in him losing several projects, including Pirates of the Caribbean.

Depp has been testifying on his own behalf since April 19 in the $50 million libel case he has filed against Heard.

Depp’s affirmative response to his lawyer Camille Vasquez’s question, on Monday, on whether or not he was a victim of domestic abuse, brought the actor’s four-day long testimony to an end.

Earlier, Heard’s team continued with his cross-examination and played an audio recording, in which the 58-year-old Depp addressed the heated arguments between the former couple, and said, “Walking away is necessary… Otherwise it’s just going to be a bloodbath…”

In addition to highlighting Depp’s issues with alcohol and substance abuse, which is what the defence lawyers contend lost him the projects, and not Heard’s allegations, they also argued that Depp was unsupportive of 35-year-old Heard’s acting career.

Lawyer Benjamin Rottenborn shared a text in which Heard informed Depp that she was in a meeting. Depp responded by text, saying, “‘No goddamn meetings. No movies. Why? Why did you deviate from our agreement? What species of meeting?”

In a separate text to Dr David Kipper, who was helping him with his substance abuse, Depp wrote, “Her [Heard’s] obsession with herself is far more important. She is so fucking ambitious. She’s so desperate for success and fame, that’s probably why I was acquired, mate.”

In the same message, Heard’s team pointed out that Depp had admitted to cutting off his own fingertip, contrary to his earlier accounts of Heard hurling a vodka bottle at him.

However, Depp said that it was just one of his figures of expression, and that it did not literally mean that he chopped off his own fingertip.

He made the same argument when explaining the hate-filled texts that he had sent to actor and friend Paul Bettany about Heard, in which he expressed violent intentions towards her.

“Let’s burn Amber,” Depp wrote in one of the messages that were shared by her lawyers earlier, and added, “Let’s drown her before we burn her!!!”

“I will fuck her burnt corpse afterwards, to make sure she’s dead,” Depp further wrote.

The actor apologised for the language and said that he was ashamed of the same, but claimed that the texts were “irreverent and abstract humour.” He added that the usage of words like “burn” and “drown” were not intended to be taken literally.

To support their argument that Depp lost work because of his own behaviour, Heard’s legal team presented a series of headlines of negative media coverage on the actor, from 2014 to 2017, all of which came before Heard’s op-ed piece in 2018. One of the headlines mentioned that Depp was constantly late to the sets of a Pirates of the Caribbean film, due to heavy drinking – a major point of contention since the trial began.

Rottenborn further noted that despite the media attention that Depp got after Heard accused him of domestic abuse, Depp did not get the restraining order from 2016 lifted. Nor did he opt for a divorce trial where he could respond to Heard’s allegations.

“You chose not to clear your name at that time,” Rottenborn said, and pointed out that Depp also chose not to sue The Washington Post.

Rottenborn reiterated the defence’s point from the initial days of the trial about Depp signing a divorce settlement, and agreeing that Heard had not made any false allegations for financial gains.

After Depp vacated the witness stand, his former house manager Ben King also testified on Monday.

The trial will continue on Tuesday at the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia.

Female Actor Assault Case: WCC Raises Concern over Lead Officer Sreejith’s Transfer

The Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) has expressed concern over the transfer of ADGP Sreejith, who was leading the investigation into the 2017 female actor abduction and sexual assault case and the conspiracy to murder officers case. Actor Dileep stands as the primary accused in both the cases.

Sreejith, who was an official of the Kerala crime branch, has now been posted as Transport Commissioner. He has been replaced by Shaik Darvesh Saheb, former ADGP for prisons.

In February 2017, a female actor who predominantly works in Malayalam and Kannada cinema was abducted and sexually assaulted by a gang of men in a moving car en route to Kochi from Thrissur. In the aftermath of this incident, a group of female artists and technicians from the Malayalam film industry, including actors Manju WarrierParvathy ThiruvothuRima Kallingal and Geethu Mohandas, and editor Bina Paul, formed the WCC to speak out for the rights of women working in the industry.

A day after Sreejith’s transfer was announced, the WCC expressed its disapproval of the move via social media. They wrote, “As the investigation into our colleague’s assault case is nearing the final stage, the transfer of the police head is going to sabotage everything.”

The WCC noted that coming at a time when the court has given an additional one and half months to complete the current investigation into the case, the change of the lead officer was “as disappointing as the regular anti-climax scene in police movies.”

“A series of evidence through new twists came out from a place where it seemed justice was impossible. This evidence could prove our colleague’s complaint that the defendant’s office is trying to sabotage the case,” they added.

The WCC further said that the defence counsel had approached the court to remove the lead investigating officer just when the probe was proceeding well. “This concerns us on all levels,” the WCC added.

Earlier, Dileep’s lawyer had complained that DGP B Sandhya and ADGP S Sreejith were reportedly fabricating cases against the actor and his defence lawyers. He also alleged that cyber expert Sai Sankar was threatened into giving his statement against the lawyers, and that the ADGP used filmmaker Balachandra Kumar to sabotage the trial.

Meanwhile, the petition filed by the crime branch seeking to cancel Dileep’s bail in the actor assault case, will be heard by the Ernakulam Additional Special Sessions Court on Tuesday. The crime branch has alleged that Dileep violated bail conditions by influencing the witnesses in the case.

Aside from this, Dileep’s petition seeking to initiate contempt of court proceedings against investigation officer Baiju Paulose will also be taken up by the court on Tuesday. The actor has alleged that a document submitted to the court was leaked to the media.