Actor Radha Ravi launched into a vile attack against the #MeToo movement, indulged in distasteful humour (read: rape jokes), and termed the campaign ‘detrimental to the progress of cinema’. Speaking at a meet organised for the film Avathara Vettai, amidst a sycophantic audience comprising several men and a woman anchor who were seen openly laughing at his speech, Radha Ravi defended the men and said that even if a director enters an actress’s room to test her make-up, his career would end.
“Directors and ADs overcome many challenges to make movies; please don’t ruin their careers. Many people from the industry called me and wanted to know what to do in light of these allegations. I told them not to come to me; I am 65 years old and accusations are being made against me only now.”
In what was reminiscent of an event in which T Rajendar reduced actress Sai Dhansika to tears on stage even as a couple of actors openly laughed along, Radha Ravi said, “Back then, when we filmed in faraway places, the team would share a great camaraderie. During the shoot of Chinnathambi, we would play tennis in the hotel during the evenings.”
The actor then remarked to the hall at large that the #MeToo movement is not something that they – as an industry – should involve themselves in. “It is not for us; it is for ministers. அதெல்லாம் பெரிய இடத்து விவகாரம்,” he said.
Supporting Vishal’s statements that the survivors need to speak out immediately after experiencing sexual harassment, Radha Ravi, echoing the sentiments of every misogynist troll out there, wondered why the instances were being brought up now.
The actor also resorted to taking digs at Sri Reddy who had accused several men in the Telugu film industry of asking her for sexual favours in return for work. “Having grown bored of picking on men there, she arrived here and began pointing fingers,” said Ravi, and then launched into the most distasteful defense ever. “We are a family of villains. And just because we are a certain way on screen, doesn’t mean we do that in real life. How can I misbehave on the sets when there are many watching? I am ready to fight this legally, the judge will know the difference between cinema and reality. The god men assault, and nobody questions them, but the devotees of those god men point fingers at others.”
The actor then compared the movement to the shooting incident that his father MR Radha was involved in. “Don’t I know the outcome of this speech? It will be in the news for four days after which it will fizzle out. When my father shot MGR, we were able to walk the streets without question after a few days. Even when something as large as a shooting incident can been forgotten and erased from public memory soon, how long will this [movement] last?”
I am appealing to the women who consider themselves progressive, he said, “Don’t degrade yourselves by indulging in this. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.”
Last week, when the #MeToo campaign began, it saw many women across professions and industries name their harassers at workplace. In the Tamil film industry, Radha Ravi was named soon after allegations against lyricist Vairamuthu surfaced. In a tweet (now taken down) shared by user @kavyanakshatra, from a person who had chosen to remain anonymous, the actor is said to have behaved inappropriately with her at his Alwarpet office. According to the survivor, the official meeting with the actor soon became something else when the actor told her to “come alone” and meet him. “You look good. Come back without your friends,” he is alleged to have said, according to a screenshot of the conversation.
So after the #Vairamuthu accusation, here is an accusation about the most respected #RadhaRavi. @Chinmayi, @varusarath, I hope this again is a well known secret in the industry as well. pic.twitter.com/KFcKLftVd0
— Kavya Nakshatra (@KavyaNakshatra) October 9, 2018
The post was retweeted by actress Varalaxmi Sarathkumar and singer Chinmayi.
I can see my Dubbing career go up in smoke now. He heads the dubbing union.
— Chinmayi Sripaada (@Chinmayi) October 9, 2018
This is not the first time that actor Radha Ravi has made a foul, callous speech. Last year, in a rally to mark DMK leader MK Stalin’s birthday, he tried to compare rivals of his party DMK, to disabled children. He imitated their facial expressions, and said they were incapable of interacting with, or playing with “normal” children. Even as his diatribe rolled on, other politicians and members of the DMK laughed along.