Less than a year ago, ace lyricist Vairamuthu was accused of sexual harassment by a host of women, headed by singer Chinmayi Sripada. And now, there’s another storm brewing on the horizon.
Following reports of his collaboration with the #MeToo accused lyricist on Tamil film Ponniyin Selvan, Oscar-winning music composer A.R. Rahman chose to respond by simply saying, “Give space, privacy and time to talk about the epic movie Ponniyin Selvan, which is a very tough creative project.”
Twitterati have been quick to express their displeasure over reports that Vairamuthu would be penning all the 12 songs in the period film, helmed by Mani Ratnam and based on the legendary literary novel written by Kalki Krishnamoorthy.
Tellingly, even before an official announcement was made, the backlash was all too evident. Meanwhile, the lyricist himself has been lying low post the #MeToo accusations and has not featured in A.R.R.’s last few projects.
While a few compared the situation with Hollywood where the accused were promptly removed from their projects, others questioned this situation, where the victims have been conveniently sidelined and the accused has been given an opportunity to write songs for a mega film.
One user also asked that if director Mani could protest against mob lynching, why couldn’t he stand up against a sex offender? Still others wondered how these things were happening despite A.R.R.’s sister, Reihana acknowledging that Vairamuthu’s antics were an open secret in the industry.
Interestingly, Rahman had earlier commented, “Been observing the #MeToo movement. Some of the names have shocked me. I would love to see our industry become cleaner and respectful of women. More power to all the victims coming forward! My team and I are committed to creating an environment where everyone finds a safe creative space.”
However, when asked recently about what had changed in the industry after a year of the #MeToo movement, ARR said, “Time heals us, teaches the right lessons, makes us wiser, stronger and more honest and everyone should be given a second chance if they repent and realise mistakes, especially when their goodness and talent is greater than their bad.”
As far as the controversy over Ponniyin Selvan is concerned, the maestro continues to keep his calm as he says, “Ponniyin Selvan is a very tough creative project. It requires a lot of collaboration, research, travel, passion and sweat. We are still in the research stage. It will take more time and effort before we move to the studio. So kindly give us privacy, space and time. When ready, a formal announcement will be made.”