Will the Hema Commission report shake the film industry?
The justice report Hema Commission Who studied the problems women face in the Malayalam film industry has given way to debates throughout Kerala. The study conducted by the committee headed by the retired judge of the High Court K Hema and veteran actor Sharada and former bureaucrat K B Valsala Kumari as members, has confirmed the practices of casting couch , unofficial prohibitions and gender discrimination in the industry.
While talking to The Times of India, in an exclusive interview, Justice Hema revealed that making a demand in return for a role or job and denying the person the opportunity if they resist exists only in cinema. “Everybody says sexual harassment in workplace is there everywhere, but you need to understand that casting couch exists only in the film industry. Casting couch exists in Malayalam cinema and those who resist face unofficial prohibitions. In addition, there are many violations of human and constitutional rights. The film industry is not a world we imagine, ”he said. Judge Hema also urged that a court be formed and a statute be implemented.
Those in the film industry react to the findings of the report that was presented to the CM a few days ago.
‘This is not a unique discovery. Such problems exist everywhere
Edavela Babu, actor and AMMA general secretary
Nothing in the report is related to us ( AMMA ). Only Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce and Kerala Film Producers Association can act based on the findings and formulate rules. There is nothing new in the study. They have only reported whatever we have been saying. Casting couch is something people here have been discussing for a long time and we should understand that it exists across the world. It isn’t something that Mollywood has discovered. ‘Compromise’ and ‘adjustment’ are individual decisions. If one decides to resist it, they won’t succumb to it. Also, I think it is about the talent here. However, if the commission says that it has happened to nearly every woman in the industry, it is an insult. I don’t deny the existence of casting couch , but we all know that it is happening in every other field. We all know how things work and if anybody has objection, let them come out. Also, let the commission reveal the names. Nothing is going to change.
The problems can be solved through constructive dialogues between the government and the producers
B Unnikrishnan, FEFKA officer and filmmaker
We have been actively trying to bring in changes in the industry through various organisations, and the commission’s findings include things that even we aren’t aware of. They have interviewed 57 people, a cross section of Malayalam cinema , who have boldly spoken to the commission about the difficulties they have faced. The report can be used as a guideline for the betterment of the industry and we can plan corrective measures too. While implementing a new law, we need to keep in mind that we already have a strong and powerful law like POSH that addresses sexual harassment at work place and this can be extended to any field of work. In every other field, it is easy to implement these laws but when it comes to films, the employer keeps changing. So, what should happen is that the producers association and the government should have a constructive dialogue to implement the existing law itself.
‘Women need a respectful and healthy work space in the cinema. Laws must be implemented
Rajeev Ravi, filmmaker and cinematographer
The problems mentioned by the commission have been open secrets in the industry. And it is really bad. We have never allowed these people to work with us. Things would have been better if the #MeToo movement that started with great momentum had continued at the same pace in Mollywood. But he did not. Instead, it ended with Alencier and Vinayakan. Women need a healthy and happy work space. They must be respected and, if there is a complaint, that must be heard, and they must be encouraged and supported to speak and work, instead of questioning their dignity. Taking into account the findings and suggestions, we must ensure that the laws are implemented. People should point out the names of those who perpetuate these bad practices to mitigate them. It is important that those who manage the arts bring change and equality.
What would be the future of those who complain?
Bad Parvathy, actress
The production controllers are the ones that govern the shooting sets. The way they treat us depends on their temperaments. Some are extremely affectionate and are ready to rest in the middle of filming. But there are also those who do not even consider us human. I have even fought for water in the sets. During the filming of Happy Sardar, I finally rented a caravan on my own, since I couldn't control not using a bathroom for 16 hours. That became a problem. I am an optimistic person and I look at the court positively. But I wonder what the future of those who complain will be. Who has complained will not be supported by the industry and we cannot prove that they are avoiding us due to our complaint. This is a market driven industry and is about comfort zones. So, I'm not sure how justice can be done. However, things are changing and I'm glad.
‘Now we have a solid document. The next step is the transformation
Asha Joseph, academic and member of the WCC.
We should be proud that Kerala and the Malayalam film industry have joined the discussions on gender parity while it happened all over the world. Thanks to our awareness and receptiveness, we are different from other States and also we were able to identify the discrimination. We have crossed the first hurdle. Through Hema Commission , we have also documented it now. This can be considered as the base for all upcoming discussions. Now, we can think of how to transform. We are in a hopeful space now. This can be done through creating awareness in the society. Such issues are prevalent in every field where women are less visible. It is important to bring in equality and gender inclusivity to make the industry healthy one.