The South Indian Artistes Association, or Nadigar Sangam as it is commonly referred to, held a preliminary meeting yesterday of a “committee set up to safeguard and protect the self-respect, public life evaluation and self-esteem of actors, both men and women”, according to a press release by the Sangam.
The committee was formed shortly after the MeToo movement gathered steam in October 2018. Those who attended it are committee members actresses Lalitha Kumari, Suhasini Maniratnam and Rohini, actors Kitty and Poochi Murugan, Nadigar Sangam treasurer Karthi and advocate Krishna Raveendran.
It is as yet unclear if this is an Internal Complaints Committee or an Anti Sexual Harassment Committee. A source in the know of the proceedings said that the committee will “need a few more sittings to come up with the structure it wants to create”.
The Tamil film industry has faced its share of MeToo accusations. Among the prominent ones are actor Arjun Sarja, named by actress Sruthi Hariharan for inappropriate behaviour during the shooting of Nibunan; actor Radha Ravi, named in his capacity as head of South India Cine Television Artists and Dubbing Union, for keeping out singer-voiceover artiste Chinmayi, Booma Rao, Dasarathi and others; and poet-lyricist Vairamuthu, who was named by Chinmayi for inappropriate behaviour.
Action was taken against Radha Ravi after he let loose a volley of slander on actress Nayanthara, ironically, at the trailer launch of Kolaiyudhir Kaalam, a film she headlines. Later, in a statement, she condemned Radha Ravi’s actions, and called out the people who encouraged such behaviour. She also asked the Nadigar Sangam to institute an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) – a mandatory requirement for any workplace with more than 10 members.
It is understood that the committee will not just stop at handling complaints, but look at the wider picture and make the work environment safe for all. Even before the committee, officers bearers of the Sangam have said that they have been tackling complaints swiftly, and silently, because any news relating to the film industry gets blown out of proportion, and also to avoid conjecture and rumour-mongering.