The Me too Movement which is moving across continents has finally hit Kollywood too with singer Chinmayi Sripada hitting out at lyricist Vairamuthu, charging him with harassing her and threatening to end her career. Vairamuthu, has indirectly referred to the charge, stating in a denial that “it had now become fashionable to target well-known people. For some time now, I have been targeted and humiliated. This is one more such instance. This is a false accusation, the truth will be out one day.”
Chinmayi’s outburst rocked Kollywood and went viral but the Tamil print and TV media largely ignored her charge.
Chinmayi confirmed the story of a woman who chose to stay anonymous, who said, “I was 18. I had to work with him for a project and he seemed nice. I respected him as he is a legend, famous poet, national award winner. In the pretext of explaining lyrics, he came to me, hugged me and kissed me. I did not what to do. I said OK sir, thank you and ran from his house.”
Chinmayi said such stories are true. She tweeted, “The industry knows; the men know. #TimesUp. The time is bloody up.” In an interview to New Indian Express, Chinmayi said, “This has happened to multiple people.”
Responding to Vairamuthu’s denial, Chinmayi tweeted that she would carry her version to her grave.
Chinmayi said she was once asked to see him at a hotel, which she refused. She was then threatened that her film career would end, and that a leading politician would also be informed that she had spoken ill of him. Reading two and two together, the politician could well be DMK leader M Karunanidhi.
This happened four years ago. Chinmayi, however, could not say for sure if Vairamuthu had tried to sabotage her career. She was not sure whether it happened but in any case, she said she had become fairly popular as a singer, and she had sung several songs without any problem. Replying to a question, it could be that Viaramuthu did not carry out his threat.
When netizens today questioned her version and asked her if she was doing this to gain popularity, Chinamyi vehemently denied and said, No. I am very popular. I am a rockstar singer, entrepreneur and a dubbing artiste. Even if I say so myself. Please go away.”
Ironically, Chinmayi’s first song was Oru Deivam Thantha Poove, written by Vairamuthu for A R Rahman in Kannathil Muthamittaal. She went on to sing several numbers in this combination. She mentioned that Vairamuthu was not present for most of her recordings and the sheet containing the lyrics would be available at the recording studio. She said she maintained a professional relationship wherever necessary.
Chinmayi says her family, and her extended family, supported her in this campaign against Vairamuthu. “My husband supports me like a rock. My mother too supports me like a rock. It is important for families to fully support those who speak out against harassment.”
She added that one reason why many girls did not come out with the truth early in their career was because they were not sure of support in the family or the workplace. “It takes a lot of courage to speak the truth, especially when it comes to powerful men”.
On whether she would like more women to join the Me Too Movement, Chinmayi said, “Absolutely. It is necessary for women to come out in large numbers. It would have an impact on predators and let men know that it was not right to touch or target women without their consent. Men have to understand the meaning of the word consent”.
Chinmayi would not blame colleagues in the film industry for not speaking up then or now. It was upto the individuals concerned. “I would not like to moralise or tell them what they should do. May be, they have their constraints.”