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Vijay Babu Case and Why AMMA Needs To Change: Actor Maala Parvathi Interview

Maala Parvathi said that she and others were told by AMMA that the ICC need not act in the Vijay Babu case.

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Reporter: Nikhila Henry

Video Editor: Prajjwal Kumar

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Maala Parvathi, a senior woman actor in the Malayalam film industry, resigned on 2 May from the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA).

"I saw a crime being committed in front of my eyes. I could not have ignored that," she told The Quint.

Maala Parvathi said that she and others were told  by AMMA that the ICC need not act in the Vijay Babu case.

Maala Parvathi resigned from AMMA's ICC on 2 May. 

(Photo: Facebook)

Parvathi was referring to actor-producer Vijay Babu naming a sexual assault survivor in a Facebook live. The survivor, an upcoming woman actor in the Malayalam film industry, had earlier lodged a rape complaint against him with the Kerala police.

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Maala Parvathi said that she and others were told  by AMMA that the ICC need not act in the Vijay Babu case.

Maala Parvathi was a member of ICC of AMMA. 

Photo: Facebook)

Following the live, Parvathi and other ICC members of AMMA asked the organisations to relieve Babu of his position in the executive committee. The organisation, however, issued a media release on 2 May stating that Babu has voluntarily stepped down. That was not enough, Parvathi said.

"If there was one line (in the press release) which said that AMMA had asked him to stepdown, it would have been fine," she said, adding, voluntarily stepping down and being asked to stepdown are "two different things."

After Parvathi's resignation, actors Cuckoo Parameshwaran and Shwetha Menon too resigned from their positions in the ICC.

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Maala Parvathi: 'AMMA Needs to Change'

When the ICC made its recommendation to remove Vijay Babu, Maala Parvathi and other members were told that the ICC "need not act" on the case because "no official complaint" from the survivor had reached AMMA. The message was communicated by actor Edavela Babu, the general secretary of AMMA.

"We said no. The POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) Act is very clear that the ICC is not just a grievance committee. Its mandate it also prevention," she said.

Maala Parvathi said that she and others were told  by AMMA that the ICC need not act in the Vijay Babu case.

Maala Parvathi and other members were told that the ICC "need not act" on the Vijay Babu case.

(Photo: Facebook)

"A crime (naming the survivor) was committed in front of our eyes. It was our (AMMA's) executive committee member committing a crime. We had to act."
Maala Parvathi

Parvathi is one among the women actors who supported AMMA during the 2017 sexual assault case in which actor-producer Dileep was accused of conspiring to get a leading woman actor raped. The case is still under trial.

Why did Parvathi stand with AMMA, despite a group of women actors leaving the organisation to form Women in Cinema Collective (WCC)? "AMMA as an organisation has been supporting several actors including the ailing and senior actors," she said.

Now Parvathi is rebelling. "But that (supporting ailing actors) is not enough. AMMA has to change," she said.
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Maala Parvathi: 'I Am Not Scared'

After Parvathi stepped down from the ICC, she has faced opposition from the rungs of AMMA. Senior male actor Maniyanpilla Raju implied in an interview that she could leave the organisation and join the women's organisation – WCC.

"I asked whether it was his opinion or the organisations opinion? I asked, 'Should I stay or go?" she said.
Maala Parvathi said that she and others were told  by AMMA that the ICC need not act in the Vijay Babu case.

Maala Parvathi said, "I am not scared."

(Photo: Facebook)

The pushback shows "how strong patriarchal hegemony is" in the organisation and the industry, she said. Has she been losing roles? Since her spat with the producers association back in 2018, she has not been getting roles from regular production houses, she said.

"Directors of a different league, like Amal Neerad, call me. But from regular production I have not been getting much work," she said.

What does Parvathy plan to do? "I am not limited to a language. There will be someone who understands our plight. There will be someone who wants this face or my acting. I am not scared," she said.

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