Kabinii Films, which is producing the upcoming Malayalam film 1744 WA (White Alto), has established an Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) to address sexual harassment complaints on its sets.
Directed by the Kerala State Award-winning director Senna Hegde, 1744 WA is a crime comedy-drama starring Sharafudheen in the lead role. The film went on floors in Kanhangad, Kerala on February 3 and the ICC was set up before that. Sreejith Nair, Mrinal Mukundan and Vinod Divakar are the film’s producers.
Speaking to Silverscreen India about instituting the ICC, producer Sreejith Nair says, “The three of us have worked in the corporate sector for many years. And we have, therefore, seen many versions of such complaint committees to address grievances. Carrying that forward, when we founded our film production company in October 2021, we decided to set up an ICC as per the PoSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act of India) guidelines.”
The trio has registered the production house as a private limited company in Karnataka. The producer notes that an ICC is mandatory for any company dealing with more than 10 employees. He further adds that it is also mandated by the Karnataka State Women’s Commission.
As per PoSH guidelines, 50% of an ICC have to be women and there must be one external member. The ICC constituted by Kabinii Films has four members, explains Nair. “Our company’s executive producer Ambili is the presiding officer. She will be present on the film sets to address any grievances. Mrinal and I are committee members as well and we have an advocate, Arsha Vikram, who has been roped in as the external member and the second woman on the committee.”
“We feel this initiative will help us run the production in a better way,” he adds.
As it was not feasible for them to gather all their employees in one room at the same time to conduct an awareness session about ICC, their executive producer Ambili met separately with all of the cast and crew, especially the women, and explained the purpose of the committee. A circular on the code of conduct was also passed on to all the workers on the set.
This code of conduct explains all the different behaviour that will considered sexual harassment. This includes “subjecting anyone (internal or external) to an unwelcome sexual behaviour, either by physical contact and advances, or a demand/request sexual favours, or making sexually-coloured remarks, or showing pornography, or any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.”
Other prohibited conduct include the “implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment; threat of detrimental treatment; threat about present or future employment; interference with work or creating an intimidating, offensive or hostile work environment; and humiliating treatment likely to affect the employee’s health or safety.”
Failure to comply with the code of conduct can result in disciplinary/legal action, the code states.
The makers have provided the contact details of the committee members and an email id for employees to register complaints. These complaints can also be registered anonymously.
It may be noted the production house’s initiative comes at a time when Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) has constantly been demanding the establishment of ICC/Grievance Redressal Cell in the Malayalam film industry, as mandated by the Supreme Court in the Vishaka case and Sexual Harassment at Work Places (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013. The WCC has even filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking to ensure this. Recently, the Kerala’s Women Commission also stressed the same when adding itself to the PIL filed by WCC.