At the trailer launch of Stand Up, a Malayalam film directed by Vidhu Vincent, a state award-winning woman director, B Unnikrishnan, a director-producer and head of the film industry’s most powerful trade union, congratulated himself for backing a feminist cause. He revealed to the audience that he readily agreed to produce the film in spite of the many rough encounters he has had with Women In Cinema Collective (WCC), a welfare union of women in Malayalam cinema of which Vidhu is one of the co-founders, over the last year.
Stand Up has Nimisha Sajayan and Rajisha Vijayan playing the lead roles. The supporting cast includes Arjun Ashokan and Seema. The audio launch of the film took place in Kochi on October 12.
Unnikrishnan explained to the crowd the relevance of the numerous low-taste entertainers which showcase machismo that he directed and produced over the years. “This film is funded with the money I made from films like Madambi and Pramani.. Anto Antony (his co-producer in the film) invested the money he made from Gana Gandharvan… We cannot do anything about it… Capital is a necessary evil,” said Unnikrishnan.
Gana Gandharvan, directed by Ramesh Pisharody and starring Mammootty, which released in theatres a fortnight ago is a comedy that seemed to have been riled by the #MeToo movement and various rights guaranteed by the law to women. Unnikrishnan’s last directorial, Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakkeel too had an instance that took a lowly dig at #MeToo, an online movement against sexual harassment which began internationally in 2017.
“We will continue to make politically incorrect potboilers that celebrate superstars so that we can make politically correct films like Stand Up,” he said.
Unnikrishnan, who places capital at the centre of a feminist movement, ignores the fact that the bitterest clash between him and the members of WCC (Women In Cinema Collective) happened not over film production or even the issue of equal gender representation in movies, but over cases of sexual harassment against women in the film industry.
At a WCC press meet held on October 13, 2018, actress and WCC member Archana Padmini had alleged that FEFKA union, headed by Unnikrishnan, had refused to take any action against Production Controller Sherin Stanley who misbehaved with her on the sets of the film, Pullikkaran Stara. Her allegation was based on the fact that Stanley was still working in the film industry without facing any official query or disciplinary action.
In response, Unnikrishnan said that he would seek legal action against Archana and WCC for making false allegations against him and FEFKA. Soon, he retracted from his comment and said that he would seek an explanation from Production Controller Badusha, Stanley’s employer. In an audio clip released by Mathrubhumi News, Badusha was heard saying that Unnikrishnan and FEFKA had been careful to not hurt the interests of the organisation and its members.
Unnikrishnan was one of the first directors in Malayalam film industry to work with actor Dileep who is one of the prime accused in a case of abduction and sexual assault of an actress that happened in February 2017. Dileep played the protagonist in Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakkeel.
Feature image courtesy: Deccan Chronicle