As debates rage over misogyny in the Malayalam industry, critics support Parvathy and her statement on Kasaba
A controversy has been rocking the Malayalam industry for the past few days. Something that has a reputed award-winning artiste trolled and verbally abused. Her crime: she publicly expressed her disappointment and sadness over a leading actor who mouthed derogatory dialogues to a woman in a film. Now, this wouldn't have ignited a debate in any other case for the single reason that women bashing is nothing new on screen. But, here the names involved happened to be Parvathy and Mammootty and hence the cyber attacks.
While the movie in question, Kasaba, had been in scrutiny ever since its release a year ago for the way it portrayed women, the recent comments by Parvathy irked many Mammootty fans who went on a relentless tirade against her. As debates rage on her comments, its magnitude and many layers, the gender politics has the industry and cine-goers clearly divided.
Scriptwriter Deedi Damodaran thinks the issue is not merely about a film or Parvathy's words. "I don't think one can limit the statements to Kasaba. What irked many is how Parvathy chose to challenge a male-dominated system. And, the verbal abuse she faces is the price she has to pay for that," says Deedi. The writer also thinks that the words Parvathy used aren't relevant here. "She was bashed because she went against the dominant system," thinks Deedi.
On the online bashing, Parvathy was subjected to, Deedi thinks someone has to take up the responsibility to rein in the 'so-called fans'. "I have known Mammootty personally for so long. He is an extension of my family but this needs to be addressed," she says.
Parvathy's statement has found support from film critic CS Venkiteswaran too. "As an artist, she can question misogyny in cinema. The interference of actors like her make the filmmakers rethink their content," he says.
But, he believes that an actor, whether it is Mammootty or anyone else, is just an equipment in the hands of the director and writer. "An actor can't be held responsible for the content. It is the responsibility of the writer. However, taking a dialogue or a scene out of context may not reflect the true sense of the film," he adds. Nevertheless, Venkiteswaran too thinks Kasaba is a misogynist movie.
And, this is what Kasaba's director has to say about the controversy. Nithin Ranji Panicker took to Facebook to post this: “To discuss a film that was released a year ago is unnecessary. It is evident that this is a publicity stunt hoping to garner fame. Like a majority of people, I too believe that the criticism is not worthy of a response. I don't think this actor deserves an answer from me."
Social critic J Devika, meanwhile, thinks that the cyber violence aimed at Parvathy is an after-effect of the immense support Women in Cinema Collective enjoys. "At IFFK where Parvathy spoke, she enjoyed serious support from cine-goers. Many view this as a threat," she says.
Devika adds, "The moment these women voiced their issues and opinions as working professionals, they were targeted. This isn't an isolated incident. Whenever an actor voices an opinion directly, he or she will be bullied."
"The way a fan reacts is unsurprising. A fan attacks a person to gain the attention of the star they adore," she says.