The recent sexual assault on a Malayalan actor has made Tamil actor Varalaxmi Sarathkumar to open up. She has now shared a personal uncomfortable experience.
She has revealed that the programming head of a leading TV channel made unwanted overtures to her during an official meeting. When she got the glimpse of his intentions, she said she immediately asked him to get out.
“I was in a meeting with the programming head of a leading TV channel. Towards the end of the meeting, he asked me, ‘So…when can we meet outside?’ To which I replied, ‘Regarding some other work? with a smug smile he said ”No Not for work. I hide my shock and anger and tell him, ‘Sorry! Please leave.’ His last word on the topic was, ‘So…that’s all?’ He smiled and walked away,”
It may be a small incident that fortunately ended safely for me but it helps me to shed light on a very important topic,” she said.
“A common reaction from people, both in the industry and outside when they hear things like this is to say, ‘film industry is like this. You knew so when you joined. Why complain now or act supposed?. My response is this, I didn’t come to the industry to be treated like a piece of meat or to follow the standards of exploitation of women already practised. I love acting. It’s my profession of choice. I work hard and i’m good at my work. I certainly do not want to choose either option of ‘put up with or quit’,” she said.
Varalaxmi has also appealed to the all the girls to not remain quiet when they are being wronged, fearing unfavourable repercussions. “If we don’t act now ‘safety for women’ will be just a dream and we will never remove the word rape from our society. I will not stay silent. I urge all my sisters and friends to do the same. You are not alone,” she said.
What’s more shocking about Varalaxmi’s revelation is the fact that she comes from a powerful and influential celebrity family. She is the daughter of actor-turned-politician Sarathkumar and is friends with who’s who of the south Indian film industry. When an actor with such strong backing can face such situations, how vulnerable are struggling and aspiring female actors to exploitation in the film industry?