Malayalam News

‘Let’s Move Together To Create A Healthy Workspace’: Actor Revathi At Women In Cinema Collective Anniversary Event

After a turbulent year, fraught with controversies and facing ugly online hate campaigns, the members of Women In Cinema Collective, a non-profit organisation of women working in Malayalam cinema, gathered in a low-key event organised in Kochi on Sunday, May 27, to commemorate their first anniversary.


The event, titled Punarvaayana (Review), was presided over by veteran actor-director Revathi, and attended by actors such as Parvathy, Padmapriya Janakiraman and Rima Kallingal, filmmaker-actor Geethu Mohandas, journalists, writers, LGBT rights activists and others.

Revathi, in her inaugural address, announced the collective’s plan to form a committee to study in detail the gender issues that plague Malayalam film industry. “First, let’s listen to those who complain of an issue, rather than putting them down. For many years, we ignored the people who raised their voice. Unless we are ready to listen, how will we identify the problem?,” she said.

Revathi also announced the decision to constitute a gender award, named after the Bechdel Test. “If a film has a scene that is longer than at least two minutes, showing two or more women talking to each other about anything other than men, we would like to recognise them through a Bechdel Award,” said Revathi. Also, she said that WCC will work towards ensuring the safety of women working on film locations. “We are focusing on small things, like arranging proper accommodation and conveyance facilities for female assistant directors and other women working on the film location,” she said.

The WCC, a non-profit organisation, was formed in 2017, soon after a popular Malayalam actor was waylaid and sexually assaulted in Kochi. A group of fifteen women artistes working in Malayalam cinema, including filmmakers Geethu Mohandas and Anjali Menon, and actors Parvathy, Rima Kallingal, Manju Warrier and Remya Nambissan, met Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, submitting a petition to look into the gender issues in the film industry. Right from its inception, the organisation has been met with polarized reactions from within and outside the film industry. Prominent members like Parvathy, Rima Kallingal and Geethu Mohandas were subjected to violent hate campaign on social media after Parvathy, in a sidebar event of International Film Festival of Kerala in December 2017, panned Kasaba, a 2017 film starring veteran actor Mammootty, one of the two most powerful figures in the film industry, for it’s misogynistic content.


The Sunday’s event was, evidently, the collective’s endeavor towards developing a friendlier relations with the rest of the industry. “It’s not as though a small group of twenty women are going to revolutionize this industry. We are trying to initiate a conversation on how we can make this space a healthy one, not just for us, but the next generation too. And it’s not for girls alone, it’s for boys too,” said Revathi, reiterating during her talk that WCC wasn’t against men in the industry, but for making the industry a better place for every gender.

Citing her experience of working in Bollywood where, these days, a significant percent of the crew are women, Revathi said, “When there are more women working in an industry, the atmosphere is many times healthier and more beautiful. Conversation happens. It becomes a society where everyone are moving together to achieve something,” she said, reaffirming that WCC wants the film industry to move together.

Pouly Valsan, veteran stage artiste and recent state award winner, was felicitated at the event which also saw a screening of filmmaker Ketan Mehta’s Mirch Masala. The second episode of Punarvayana will take place in Thiruvananthapuram today.