Finally the storm of MeToo has entered Kannada film industry when actress Sangeetha Bhat shared her MeToo harassment story. But it failed to create any wave in media as the actress had not mentioned any names directly and had also mentioned that she doesn’t have the proof to back her allegations. But recent allegations of actress Shruthi Hariharan against actor Arjun Sarja has created a huge uproar within industry and among fans as well. With each passing the story has taking new twists and turns with more revelations and counter allegations. Only other allegation which has received similar amount of backlash was of Singer Chinmayi’s allegations against lyricist Vairamuthu. Even though lot of celebrities have been accused through MeToo, only two cases have managed to generate this much noisy discussions in media and industry. And it could not have been possible without any reasons. Lets see what are they
1. When you make an allegation of sexual harassment, it becomes a legal thing. In this case, both Chinmayi and Shruthi Hariharan have made accusations without providing enough clarity regarding the evidences which could be termed as valid in the court of law.
2. Both Arjun Sarja and Vairamuthu have maintained a clean image till date and are admired for their work on screen. Even though maintaining a good on-screen persona does not validate their off-screen character, Chinmayi and Shruthi must have anticipated the amount of backlash they might receive in case they fail to validate their allegations.
3. In case of Chinmayi, there is a huge amount of speculation going on in social media regarding her allegations. One of the reasons for the backlash is 2017’s viral phenomenon Suchi Leaks. When Singer Suchitra Karthik allegedly revealed few pictures and videos of celebrities [Some of which were explicit in nature], most of the celebrities including Chinmayi had denied it. Even though most of the images that made rounds in social media were fake, there were few real ones too. Stand up comedian and husband of Suchitra had issued a statement saying that his wife was not in a proper state of mind during the course of events . Even after such attempts of clearing the air, there exists a huge amount of doubt within industry and among fans regarding Chinmayi’s part in the case which could be sensed from the way fans have been reacting to her tweets from past few days.
4. In case of Shruthi Hariharan, whole Kannada industry has been divided with majority taking Arjun Sarja’s side. Actor cum activist Chethan Kumar who is admired among the people of Karnataka for his contributions in various social activities was the first one to come out Shruthi’s support. An independent committee founded by the actor called “FIRE” too launched a press meet along with few noted members from the film industry. The actor had demanded to hand over the case to FIRE committee. But Shruthi’s inclusion in the FIRE committee both raises the question of conflict of interest and why she had not raised the question soon after becoming a part of the FIRE committee.Another counter allegation made by some biggies in the industry is that actor Chethan is doing all this as a part of personal vendetta against Mr Arjun Sarja who allegedly removed Mr Chethan from his directorial film Prema Baraha as things were not falling in place.
5. Chinmayi, Shruthi Hariharan along with those who have come out in their support are saying that people should believe in their story. But if we put some common sense into what they are saying, we will understand that doing so will be clearly against the court of law. Because every person who makes allegations and stands in court’s witness box says “Believe me”. But court does not pass judgements based on what one believes. It asks for evidences. So the hashtag movement created by their supporters called BelieveHer and BelieveSurvivers is kind of illogical and idiotic.
6. If you take either Tanushree Dutta – Nana Patekar case or Alok Nath – Vinta Nanda case, we do not see any kind of professional relationship between accuser and accused after the alleged harassment had taken place. But in case of Chinmayi and Shruthi Hariharan, we could clearly see a cordial relationship till recently. This had led the audience to question the intentions behind the allegations.
7. A Kannada actress had raised another question through a recent post questioning the timing and intentions behind the movement. In her post she has mentioned that actresses who once used to take advantage of the compromises are currently trying to piggy back on the movement for publicity. But sadly there has no discussions about this side of story as the mood of the movement is largely single dimensioned.
8. Having said this, apart from the accuser and the accused and few closes in some cases, nobody knows the details and the truth about the allegations. So people who accuse should try to clear their individual issues legally and stop making it a gender war through social media trend by instigating more hate through hashtags and retweets.
Just like any other cases, there are two sides to the entire case of sexual harassment and MeToo movement.One is that,there are sexual predators in the film industry who are part of the casting couch mafia which has destroyed the career and life of many talented actors and actresses. There have been many instances where it has been proved in the court of law and some of the accused have accepted their mistakes as well.But along with this it is also true that not everything is black and white. Considering the amount of cases where false accusations have been proved in the court of law , it is idiotic to believe all the accusers straightaway. All those who are part of this movement should clearly understand the fact that sexual harassment is a criminal offense and it should be dealt in the court of law, not in the virtual court of social media.