ONV Academy to Reconsider Award to Vairamuthu Amidst Criticism
Actor Parvathy, director Anjali Menon and others criticised ONV academy's decision to award a #MeToo accused artist.
The ONV Literary Academy announced on 26 May that Tamil lyricist Vairamuthu would receive the honour this year. Several actors and women's rights activists criticised the academy's decision to honour someone with several #MeToo allegations against him. In a statement issued on 28 May, filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan informed the award is being reconsidered.
The ONV literary award was instituted in the memory of poet ONV Kurup and recognises poets from Malayalam and other languages, and includes a cash prize of Rs. 3,00,000 and a citation. This year's jury consisted of poet Prabha Varma, Malayalam University Vice-Chancellor Anil Vallathol and writer Alankode Leelakrishnan.
Speaking to The Hindu, Gopalakrishnan said, "In normal course, the trust does not intervene in any jury decision. It does not seem that the jury was aware of these allegations. They might have considered only his writings while coming to a decision. Vairamuthu has already been informed about the award. The trust management committee will meet and arrive at a decision on this."
Writer N S Madhavan tweeted, "Adoor is so wrong when he said that ONV award was given to Vairamuthu for his writing and not character. Remember 2018 Nobel for Literature was cancelled because there were #MeToo charges against husband of a jury member. Be sensitive when you deal with arts, please."
Actor Parvathy Thiruvothu was one of the first to express criticism at the academy's decision. In an Instagram post she wrote, "ONV Sir is our pride. His contribution as a poet and lyricist is incomparable. How it has nourished our culture. Our hearts and minds have benefited through his body of work. This is exactly why it is immense disrespect to give such an honour in his name to the accused of sexual assault crimes."
In her caption, she delved into the art vs. artist debate. "Nothing is more important than humanity. If you come at me with the art vs artist debate, let me tell you that for me the humanity of the person creating the art is the only thing I’d choose to look at. I can live without the “art” of those who hollow out lives with absolute impunity," she wrote.
During the #MeToo movement in 2018, Vairamuthu was accused by singer Chinmayi Sripaada. 16 other women spoke up against the lyricist after that. Director Anjali Menon and musician T M Krishna also condemned the decision.
The Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) had issued a statement urging the jury to 'uphold the values and dignity associated' with ONV Kurup. The statement read, "Is Art created through harassment and cruelty to coworkers worth being celebrated? Art should not be an excuse for abuse."
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.