Tamil News

Lenin Bharathi Says Cinema Has Normalised Misogyny And Sexism

Merku Thodarchi Malai Success Meet Photos

Director Lenin Bharathi in recent interview says abusing and slut-shaming women is not new to Tamil films or film-related events in the past. He was reacting to Radha Ravi’s comments on Nayanthara.


When Radha Ravi abused Nayanthara at the Kolaiyuthir Kaalam audio launch, Nayanthara, members of Nadigar Sangam, the producers’ council and several others from the industry condemned his comments. This was seen as a moment that called for serious action. However now, Lenin Bharathi says that even Nayanthara and Vignesh Shivn, and others in the film industry, have said the same things.

Speaking to Cinema Vikatan, Lenin Bharathi, director of Merku Thodarchi Maalai, said that cinema has normalised misogyny, and the actors condemning Radha Ravi have themselves slut-shamed women in films and outside. He asks why it was okay for Nayanthara, her partner Vignesh Shivn, and the big stars in the industry like Rajinikanth to repeatedly speak abusively of women in the films they made.

Citing examples from Naanum Rowdy Thaan, the Nayanthara-starrer directed by Vignesh Shivn, Lenin Bharathi says, “In the film, Vignesh Shivn directed Nayanthara’s character to tell Parthiban the same words that Radha Ravi used at the audio launch. The film became a success and they celebrated it. But now, when such a comment is targeted at them, they feel hurt and speak of their self-respect and anger?”

He further said, “I’m not targeting just them. Top actors like Rajinikanth has made such comments in his films. Scores of families came to watch Chandramukhi, in which superstar Rajinikanth abused the character played by Vadivelu’s wife. People didn’t say anything about it, they ignored that.”

He also said that before blaming viewers for cheering abusive content, filmmakers must realise that it is cinema which has normised this. Filmmakers have a responsibility to be conscious of not hurting any section of the audience, he said. “Cinema has defined ideas of beauty, and it has reduced a person’s life to their body… Vignesh Shivn’s anger over Radha Ravi’s comments is justified. But will he look back at his own films, or think about it hereafter?”

A recent interview with director Praveenkanth is reflective of what Lenin Bharathi says about the industry. Praveenkanth, one of the members present during Radha Ravi’s speech at the Kolaiyuthir Kaalam audio launch, dismissed Radha Ravi’s comments as his ‘style’, saying, “Radha Ravi’s fans enjoy what he speaks, and this includes press people who enjoy his humour. And usually, when people start cheering to our speech, we start saying some things without our knowledge.”

When asked if he was justifying Radha Ravi’s comments, he said, “I’m not saying what he spoke was right, but that is his style. We’ve always taken this in a positive way. And now, maybe this was blown up for the Airaa team used this as a promotion tactic before their film’s release… There was also some political involvement ahead of elections.”


Actor-politician Anandaraj, who has had a stint with both AIADMK and DMK, made a passing mention about the issue at a press meet recently. He said, “I believe he should not have spoken this, and the necessary punishment has been carried out by the head of DMK.”

He said the incident has made him aware of his portrayal in films, “I’m currently shooting a film with Suriya and Jyothika. I have just completed dubbing, and I had discussed with my director to not speak ill of any woman, or address them poorly. Jyothika is my friend’s wife, and even otherwise, in cinema it is our responsibility to protect women.”