South Indian playback singer Chinmayi Sripaada had created a storm after accusing legendary Tamil lyricist Vairamuthu of sexual harassment. The singer, ever since, has been at the forefront of India’s #Metoo movement. In an interview with The Hindu, the singer has now said that the industry has blackballed her for standing up and raising her voice.
She said that prior to the #Metoo movement she used to sing three songs a day and with successful albums like 96 (the movie). She claimed that her involvement in the movement has led to losing the projects previously signed in what she calls, “was not a coincidence”.
The singer was also terminated from the primary membership of the South Indian Cine, Television Artistes and Dubbing Artistes Union. Explaining the reason, she says that the Union informed that they had debarred her for not paying the subscription fee, however, she had paid a fee of Rs 5,000 in February 2016 and that her name was there on the list of members. “Since I had dubbed for 96, Irumbu Thirai and two other recently-launched films, it clearly means that I was a member,” she said.
She also added that the Union takes as high as 10 per cent of the income of the artistes to maintain membership. Radha Ravi, Tamil actor and president of the union, holds the post despite an FIR being filed against him for the sale of land in the name of the Union.
Criticising the Union, she said that the bylaw stops her from raising issue against Union in the media or police. “Therefore, if I have a problem against Radha Ravi, I have to go to Radha Ravi to complain against Radha Ravi,” she adds. T N B Kathiravan, the general secretary, says that if I keep talking like this, it would be my funeral.
Chinmayi claimed that apart from Tamil industry, women members of WCC (Women in Cinema Collective) in Malayalam are also being punished. The producers want to show us as examples to other women to say ‘if you speak up, this is what will happen to you. So don’t do it.’ She said that Telugu industry was better in dealing with the issues of sexual harassment, at least after Sree Reddy revelations.
She also said that influential women in the industry should take a stand and say – don’t shame the victims even if you can’t help them, expressing despair that some of the most vocal women who speak up for women’s right are gas-lighting the victims.