Bengaluru: In the wake of the spate of complaints by Hollywood's actresses against the years of abuse at the hands of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, women across the globe are sharing their personal experiences about commonplace sexual assault and harassment through #MeToo social campaign. Among them, not surprisingly are several Kannada actresses. Some have come out in the open, sharing their stories expressing concern over the safety and dignity of their vulnerable colleagues.
Leading the #MeToo campaign is actress Neethu Shetty of the ‘Galipata’ movie famme. On her social media account, Neethu says; #MeToo, #MeToo, #MeToo. While going for my tuitions early in the morning, while riding my scooter, while I was in the playground, in the market, in the crowd, in public transport, at the dentist's clinic, from the mirror in the auto, subtly at the workplace... Yes, not every man is bad and even guys have been harassed... But the number of girls who are using the 'me too' hashtag today is shocking. I am sorry for each one of us who went through these experiences!!
"If all who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote 'Me too.' as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” An actress born in Trivandrum, Surabhi Santhosh, a classical dancer who made her comeback in Sandalwood with ‘2nd Half’, shares her experience on # ‘MeToo’, saying, “Unpleasant experiences which I hate thinking about, which angers me and makes my blood boil. For all the times I have been pinched, groped and flashed in public by disgusting older men if you can still call them that. Let the magnitude of this problem be known! Speak up guys, even if it is difficult.”
Sources in the film industry admit that the ‘casting couch’ does exist but it is not as rampant as it is in other film industries. Recently, actress Shruthi Hariharan of Lucia movie fame did reportedly express concern over the casting couch but is of the opinion that it is much less when compared to other industries. In 2014, a TV sting operation exposed the existence of the casting couch in Sandalwood with a couple of directors named but not shamed for seeking sexual favours.
As one actress told DC, the harassment of women at the filmi workplace has never gone away. “Call it casting couch or ‘package deal’ or sexual harassment, it exists in the entertainment industry, across sections. Not all dare to speak about it openly, as it instantly affects their career. Not all men are bad and on some occasion, even male actors are abused.”