Malayalam News

AMMA President Innocent Says Women Are Responsible For Casting Couch; Actresses React

When actor-politician Innocent, who is the president of AMMA (Association Of Malayalam Movie Actors), held a press meet on July 5, he might have expected it to be an amiable affair that would restore public faith in the organisation which is currently going through a moral and ethical crisis. A leading actress in the industry was abducted and molested inside a moving car in Kochi in February this year, and the way AMMA handled the issue was severely criticised by the media and the public.


At the press meet, Innocent apologised on behalf of actor-politicians Ganesh and Mukesh who shouted down reporters at a press conference held on June 28 when asked about AMMA’s stance on the actress’s case. “Some of the actors shouted, while the others hooted. I apologise for their acts,” he said. He also apologised for not intervening and taking control of the situation. “I shouldn’t have remained silent. I should have asked them to keep quiet. I couldn’t, because I didn’t see it coming,” he said. He reiterated that AMMA would stand by the actress and ensure that she gets justice.  

However, the sexist nature of the 72-year-old actor came to light when a reporter asked him if casting couch is still a problem in the industry. “Casting couch is a thing of the past, sister,” he said. “These days, if anyone approaches an actress with such an offer, she would immediately call the media and expose him. However, if the actress is a promiscuous woman with a questionable moral side, she might sleep with him.”


Innocent’s statement, which only held the woman accountable for casting couch, surprised many. Actress and founding member of Women In Cinema Collective, Rima Kallingal, was one of the first to respond. “When you are so inherently a part of the system that holds women accountable for having to sleep around for a job opportunity, rather than the men who ask for that “favour; When you are so blinded by your privilege and entitlement that you think every woman out there can hold a press conference when her rights and her being are violated; When you know that you are part of this system and don’t know where to start from. But then, you know deep inside that this has to change, and change it will,” she wrote on Facebook. 

Earlier, actresses like Lakshmi Rai and Parvathy had spoken up about being approached by men in the film industry for sexual favours.

Women In Cinema Collective then issued a press release late on Wednesday, asking their male counterparts to be careful while talking about sensitive issues that concern women. “We strongly disagree with the statement passed by Innocent that gives an impression that film industry is free of sexual harassment. The skewed power dynamics that exist in the society reflect in the film industry too. Women who are new to this field are subjected to various kinds of exploitation…We hope the state government appointed Justice Hema Commission will conduct an efficient inquiry into this aspect,” the press release said.

This is the first time that Women In Cinema Collective has openly countered the AMMA president. At the June 28 press meet, the male actors who spoke to the media, dismissed rumours about WCC members being upset with AMMA.