'I believe in WCC's all-transcending power': Parvathy responds to director Vidhu Vincent's allegations
Recently, director Vidhu Vincent left the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) citing personal disagreements with the group
Recently, director Vidhu Vincent left the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) citing personal disagreements with the group. She had said her decision to do a film backed by filmmaker B Unnikrishnan, a former collaborator of Dileep, did not sit well with the group, and that their attitude was elitist and hypocritical. Parvathy has finally come out with a statement explaining what really happened.
Vidhu was referring to the fact that two of its members, Parvathy Thiruvoth and Anjali Menon, had worked with two people who had supported Dileep during the actress abduction case — actor Siddique and director Ranjith. Vidhu had also mentioned that she was ignored when she reached out to Parvathy for a role in her second directorial feature, Stand Up.
Responding to the second issue first, Parvathy said she had responded to Vidhu's messages after a slight delay as she was taking a break from work following the cyber attacks she faced during the Kasaba controversy a few years ago. "I distinctly remember messaging Vidhu with profuse apologies explaining that I had been away and not known anything about her project. She clarified that she had tried to contact me on Whatsapp; I requested her to resend the message. She did and it was a single message with a short one-paragraph synopsis of the film dated May 30,2018," said Parvathy, adding, "I apologised again and asked her if she would still consider me for the role. She was keen so we agreed to meet on the sets of Uyare. As a professional practice, I discourage script narrations on sets but I suggested this only because I did not want to delay her in any manner. Meanwhile, as I was feeling bad about this, I wrote to everyone, including Vidhu, revealing sensitive details about how deeply I was impacted by the harsh personal attacks and online hate. This was the first time I had shared such intimate details about myself in full trust and hope that they would understand my health condition. I specified that I was making immediate amends for unintentional lapses that may have occurred on my part during that period."
Elaborating further, Parvathy said she had politely declined the film as the script didn't work for her and that when Vidhu persisted, she explained to her that considering the time constraints and her two other pending projects, it wouldn't be practical to prepare for the role of a stand-up comedian in a short amount of time. Parvathy later agreed to get back with a decision 10 days later.
"As agreed, in the next few days I made a phone call and informed her that I would not be able to do the project," said Parvathy. "She shared that she understood my decision and updated me on the developments on the project when I enquired. As we hung up, we wished each other well. From the sets of Uyare, I proceeded to the shoot of Virus and then Varthamanam and the dubbing of Uyare until the end of March. During this intense work period, I was surprised when Vidhu sent me a screenplay draft by e-mail even though I had clearly said no to the project. Within about 30-40 days, the poster of Stand Up was released with Nimisha Sajayan’s photograph on it. I was thrilled to see that such a powerful performer was going to portray that role."
On the first allegation, Parvathy said a conversation was had with Vidhu after the release of Stand Up where the two talked about a misleading interview which made it look like there was some conflict between her and Parvathy. The latter remembers the conversation ending on a good note, and that she was surprised to see the "warm and friendly" tone missing in Vidhu's resignation letter.
"I know that Vidhu’s journey to make Stand up has been a tough one. I would never cancel out her pain, her journey and her struggles in any way," continued Parvathy. "Way before box-office success came my way, in the first seven years of my career, I had no godfather or godmother to guide me or come to my aid. I am not one to discount any struggle that we, women, as artists go through. Having decided to carve my own path and living alone from the age of 19, I have seen many lows that I have not shared much about. Being a part of the Collective and interacting with so many women has shown me what my privileges are, without taking away the fact that all of us had to traverse through difficult and painful paths."
Parvathy pointed to the unfortunate fact that no matter how successful women are and the backgrounds they come from, they are relegated to the “Second Sex” in the film industry. She added that an allegation from Vidhu, who had helped her a lot during a massive crisis, is upsetting. "I know Vidhu to be a very vocal, communicative person who voices her thoughts quite openly, so it hurts me that she did not speak to me about whatever issues she had with me. My work is owed to filmmakers. I respect them and their time. I am immensely grateful to every filmmaker who would offer me opportunities to collaborate with them, whether it works out or not. It dismays me to think that any of the filmmakers whose offers I have declined, would feel that they are unimportant or feel humiliated. Because that would never be my intention. I need them more than they need me."
Parvathy said that before the formation of the Collective, her views on feminism were limited and that the members of the WCC had encouraged her to strengthen her political stands and empowered her ability to empathise and understand the hold of patriarchal conditioning within her and outside. "It’s the constant voice of dissent and discussion within the Collective and its supporters as well which opened my eyes to the most important and core value of feminism — Intersectionality. The truth is that not a single member in WCC has ever restricted, interrogated or harassed anyone when it came to professional choices. I know that the Collective has always initiated conversations, to know how to respond and support each other when we negotiate through our paths in the professional world."
Cementing her belief in not just WCC but other similar collectives all over the world, Parvathy concluded her statement by saying that WCC is a political movement that is above and beyond any individual. "I believe in its unrelenting, galvanizing and all-transcending power. I believe we are all here forging an extremely tough path ahead. My heart stays open and my mind, willing to learn and move forward together."