Noted singer Chinmayi Sripada says she will file a complaint against well-known Tamil lyricist Vairamuthu for alleged sexual harassment while they were in Switzerland a few years ago in connection with a Tamil music event.
In an exclusive interview to inmathi.com, Chinmayi, who is among the first in Kollywood to join the MeToo campaign, said she would lodge the complaint against Vairamuthu with Greater Chennai police shortly. Chinmayi disclosed that she would be joined by three other women in the complaint against Vairamuthu. The modalities and timing of the complaint against Vairamuthu were being worked out in consultation with her lawyers, Chinmayi said.
Asked whether she stood by the charges she made against Vairamuthu and whether she would file a police complaint, Chimayi said, “Absolutely. I stand by what I said 100 percent. I am definitely filing a police complaint against him. You can bet my life on it.”
On whether she would lodge a complaint with the panel that is proposed to be set up by the Union Ministry for Women or Law and Justice, Chinmayi said, “Sure. As and when the Union government sets up a panel for MeToo victims to file a complaint, I will be there too to lodge my complaint against Vairamuthu, whatever be the scope and limitations of that panel.”
Of the three other women who would join her in filing the police complaint against Vairamuthu, Chinmayi said she would come out with the names later. One of them was the relative of a famous singer, she disclosed.
On the MeToo movement, Chinmayi said, “it is fantastic. So many people have been emboldened to come out with the truth years after the incidents. I wish it would grow and spread to all fields, not just the film industry or the media.”
Asked about Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan’s comment, wondering what would happen if men too came up with complaints as part of the MeToo movement, Chinmayi said, “I thank the Hon’ble Minister for his comments. In fact, it would be great if men too joined the movement and spoke up against sexual harassment. There have been several cases of boys being harassed by elderly men in the family and outside. They are beginning to speak out and I hope more men come out too.”
“In fact, the MeToo movement is not a gender thing. It is not just about girls. It is about boys too. Anyone who is sexually harassed and targeted has a right to come out with the truth, whether a girl or a boy.”
On actor Rajinikanth’s statement today that the MeToo movement should not be abused, Chinmayi said, I respectfully thank Rajini sir for his suggestions and advice. In fact, if there is any abuse, we women will be among the first to raise our voice against such abuse. We are not for abuse of the movement. We merely seek justice, and we hope to get it. I wish to assure Rajini sir that we are clearly against abuse of the movement.”
Chinmayi said society should move ahead of the notion that women should not speak about such harassment in public and that they would suffer from social stigma if they came out with the truth. Women are now willing to name and shame the sexual predators. The days are gone when women should silently suffer such harassment. If one loses a suitcase or jewelry, or attacked, such a person is entitled to lodge a police complaint. The same situation should apply if an attempt is made on the honor and self-esteem of women or if they are sexually assaulted and targeted. Such women too are entitled to lodge a police complaint.”
Asked about Vairamuthu’s denial of her charge, Chinmayi said “He is bound to deny the charge. What else can we expect from him?”
On why she chose to invite Vairamuthu to her wedding despite this incident, Chinmayi said it was purely out of protocol and the event was handled by her PROs. At that time, she had not made public the incident concerning Vairamuthu. If he was not invited to the wedding, people would have mistaken her for being ungrateful as she had rendered several songs written by Vairamuthu. “When I invited his son Madan Karky, he asked me if his father was invited or not. Therefore, we had to invite him too as it would have looked odd otherwise.” The incident was known only to a couple of people in the family, and therefore it would have looked very odd if Vairamuthu was not invited to the wedding (in 2014). She would have had a lot of answering to do at a time when she had not gone public with the complaint, Chinmayi added.
It was purely a matter of protocol and it did not mean she had bowed down to him, Chinmayi said.