Celeb Buzz

The Normalisation Of Harassment Is Scary: Singer Chinmayi Voices Her Opinion On Actress Rekha’s Confession!

Very aptly put, Chinmayi!

Rekha may have considered the infamous kissing scene in the film to be a stepping stone in her career but physically getting intimate with a 16-year-old and not getting her consent for the same is sexual harassment at any cost and Chinmayi has beautifully explained that point. Here’s what she had to say:

This viral video of a non-consensual kiss where the men knew they’d orchestrate a kiss and it would be over in a shot was so normal. So was hitting and slapping and beating people on sets by great directors. It still happens. There are downright sadists who like physically assaulting, beating people on set. It is a power game. And these are grown men on sets working in various capacities that will be assaulted. Their stories aren’t spoken or heard. It has all been normalized and the abuse continues. Point is – Women have been raised, trained, nurtured and trained, generation after generation to sweep abnormal, bad behaviour by men under the carpet and normalise it. This is why the Sowcar Janaki – Y Gee Mahendra interview where she shamed the MeToo movement wasn’t surprising.Rekha ma’am spoke about the whole episode in a matter of fact manner, even included some laughs so that she isn’t attacked, and her interviewer laughed as well. That’s the extent of normalisation women have had to go into.”

Rekha and Kamal played star-crossed lovers who jump off a waterfall because they will not be allowed to live together. While the scene itself became legendary, Rekha’s revelation has sparked outrage. In an interview with The News Minute, here’s all that Rekha recently stated:

“I’ve said this a hundred times. They shot the scene without me knowing about it. People ask me the same question and I’m fed up with answering it.”

However, Rekha believes that the addition of the kissing scene gave out a terrific result making the film a blockbuster hit. “The kiss didn’t look ugly or aggressive on-screen. There was a need for it, but I was a very young girl and I didn’t know about it. He (director K Balachander) said, ‘Kamal, close your eyes! You remember what I told you, right?’ and Kamal said that he did. Then we had to jump when he said 1, 2, 3… we kissed and then jumped. It was only when I watched it in theatres that I realised it had such a huge impact,” she said.

“They continued after that shot also, we had a location shift. Suresh Krissna and Vasanth were associate directors and I told them I wasn’t informed about the kiss and that I wouldn’t have agreed to it. But they told me to think of it as a big king kissing a small child. They told me it wouldn’t be passed by the Censor. I asked them what the Censor was!” she recalls.

Adding that these days an onscreen kiss isn’t a big deal, she said, “Whatever has happened has happened. It’s been many years now, but this question keeps coming up again and again.”

“The audience still doesn’t believe that it happened without my permission. Only he (Kamal Haasan) and the unit that was there can confirm what I’ve said. Balachander sir is no more. Only those who were there at the shoot know that the kiss happened without my consent,” said Rekha. When asked if the director or the actor apologised to her for the act, she said, “Why would they apologise, the film was a super hit! I got many films after that too, with Ramarajan and Ilaiyaraaja, like Namma Ooru Pattukaran. We were all so busy in those days, going from one schedule to another.”

She believes that Punnagai Mannan was the reason her career kick-started. “I don’t know about getting an apology but it is a fact that I wouldn’t have said yes to the kiss at that time. They just did the scene suddenly. It’s over now and I don’t want to revisit it,” said Rekha adding that she was more cautious after that.

Asked if she feels there should be a greater awareness in the film industry about such issues, she says, “I’ve been in the industry for a long time and I can’t say that I’ve had a bad experience as such. I’ve been here for the last 28 years. I believe in ‘give respect and take respect’. Nobody has ill-treated me, whether it’s an actor, director or technician. I haven’t had the kind of #MeToo experiences that people have talked about. This is work for me – I go and finish it, that’s it. I just focus on what I have to do.”

“I’ve been asked if I’ll wear a swimsuit, sleeveless or shorts and I’ve said no. I’ve told them that shorts won’t suit me and that I’ve done only homely roles, not sexy ones. I’d tell them this in advance. If we have to shoot a rain scene, we’ll wear a black skirt or a thick sari,” she says.

“I want to stay positive,” she says. “Kamal sir himself is 65 now. What’s the point of talking more about this now?”

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