Actor Parvathy Thirovothu announced her resignation from the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) on Monday protesting against AMMA general secretary Edavela Babu’s comments on a female actor who is a survivor of sexual assault, during an interview with Nikesh Babu on Reporter TV.
Babu was on the show Meet the Editors to discuss an upcoming OTT platform for Malayalam movies. Asked if the female actor will be part of the sequel of Twenty:20, a 2008 film that the female actor was part of, Babu said: “Yes, she did a good role. We can’t bring back the dead. We can only make the film with people who are part of AMMA. She’s not part of AMMA. That’s all I can say.”
Twenty:20 was spearheaded by AMMA and the accused in the sexual assault case actor Dileep.
Parvathy slammed Babu in a statement she posted on her social media for comparing the female actor to the dead.
“In 2018, when my friends resigned from A.M.M.A., I stayed back thinking at least a few should continue to work within a broken system and help repair it. But after watching A.M.M.A General Secretary speak to Reporter TV’s Nikesh Kumar, I have abandoned all hope that anything will ever change within this association,” she wrote.
Demanding Babu’s resignation, Parvathy wrote: “Moreover, I strongly demand the resignation of Mr. Edavela Babu. I hope other conscientious members will also demand for the same, and I will be keenly watching to see who will come forward. I urge every member to see that it’s a hazy bubble of “welfare” that’s wrapped around a core of corrupt morals.”
When media sheds light on the issue, Babu’s peers would come out in his favour as that’s the way they deal with women’s issues, she added.
In response to Parvathy’s accusations, Babu was reported by The Times of India as saying: “I was asked if the survivor would be part of the sequel of Twenty: 20. I said how can someone who died be part of the film?”
He added that he was ready to resign from AMMA, if those who elected him asked him to so.
Twenty: 20 (2008), was made and produced by actor Dileep, who was arrested in 2017 for conspiring the abduction and sexual assault of the survivor. Soon after, the Women in Cinema Collective was conceived to fight for the survivor’s cause. In 2018, four leading industry members -the survivor, Rima Kallingal, Ramya Nambeesan and Geetu Mohandas – resigned from AMMA when the organisation took steps to reinstate Dileep, who had earlier been expelled.
Earlier this year, Babu turned into a hostile witness after he retracted from his statement to the police. After Dileep’s arrest in 2017, Babu had confirmed that the survivor had approached AMMA with a complaint that she was being denied opportunities due to her friendship with Dileep’s former wife and actor Manju Warrier.
Babu had also acknowledged that the survivor and Dileep got into an argument during the rehearsal of a stage show, a day prior to the incident. However, when questioned about his statements earlier this year, he told the court that he does not remember any of it.
After the actors’ statements, celebrities, including filmmaker Aashiq Abu and writer NS Madhavan, took to social media and shared the hashtag, #Avalkoppam (with her) to stand in solidarity with the survivor.
A survivor has been put through hoops of fire and constant trauma for over three years. We have seen her stand tall and fight for justice. It has a been plain torture. I’m in shock at how witnesses are turning hostile. #Avalkoppam #IStandByTheSurvivor pic.twitter.com/P5Q4I62kZr
— Parvathy Thiruvothu (@parvatweets) September 19, 2020