The #MeToo movement which has seen a number of survivors of sexual harassment open up about their experiences and naming perpetrators on Twitter, over the last few days, has trickled down to Kollywood with allegations surfacing against poet Vairamuthu.
Singer Chinmayi Sripaada on Tuesday had tweeted about how she was asked by the organisers of an event that was held in Switzerland to ‘co-operate’ with Mr. Vairamuthu. While earlier she re-tweeted anonymous complaints about sexual misconduct in the industry without naming anyone, on Tuesday she went ahead and drew Mr. Vairamuthu’s name into the controversy, with her own account. A few members from the film fraternity spoke in support of her, and members of the community, but her tweets got a fair bit of trolling too.
While he did not react to the allegations directly, Mr. Vairamuthu tweeted on Wednesday, stating that it had become common to engage in an uncivilised acts like slander against well known-personalities, and the trend had spread so much, it was being considered civil now throughout the country.
“In the recent past, I have been constantly humiliated and this is yet another attempt at the same. Time will reveal the truth,” he had tweeted.
The poet had recently been embroiled in a controversy for a speech he had made on goddess Andal which had prompted several right-wing groups to demand an apology from him.
“The movement’s time has come and some of us have finally found the voice to speak up,” said Ms. Chinmayi, speaking to The Hindu. In a telephonic conversation, she said that despite Mr. Vairamuthu skirting the allegations which have been made, “the fact remained that he was a serial predator.”
“At least four of my own singer colleagues have made allegations as well as three girls who have stayed in his hostel. They are not lying,” she alleged.
Ever since the singer opened up about her experience, she has also received a fair share of trolling from Twitter users. “I am being questioned as to why I sang songs written by him. Of course I had to. Could I refuse to sing his songs?” she asked.
The singer had said she would respond to a call from the National Commission for Women about writing to them of her complaint.
In her tweets accusing Mr. Vairamuthu, Ms. Chinmayi had alleged that she had been asked to visit Mr. Vairamuthu in his hotel in Lucerne by the event organiser.
“I asked why. He told me to cooperate. I refused. We demanded to be sent back to India. He said: ‘You won’t have a career!’,” she tweeted. She further stated in her tweets that she and her mother had demanded an earlier flight to India and had then come back. The singer also alleged that 3 to 4 years back, Mr. Vairamuthu had asked her to sing the ‘Tamizh Thaai Vaazhthu’ at a book release function which she refused to do.
She alleged that when she refused to do so, he had allegedly threatened her and claimed that he would tell a politician that she had spoken ill of him on stage at an event.
Mr. Vairamuthu was not available for comments on the specific allegations.
In a video response shared on Wednesday, Suresh from Switzerland, who organised the ‘Veezhamattom’ album launch event which Ms. Chinmayi and Mr. Vairamuthu had been a part of came down on the singer’s allegations and severely condemned it.
“Chinmayi and her mother had been hosted in my house with my family. There is no way that an incident as she claims could have happened. She was treated very well during the course of her stay here,” he said.
“While he is in Switzerland, it is very tough to even meet Mr. Vairamuthu. He comes here to appreciate nature and prefers to be alone. He has only met me once for dinner and it is tough for people to meet him as well,” he added.
He further reiterated that while it will be easy for someone of Mr. Vairamuthu’s stature to tide over such false allegations given the conviction in his innocence, the claims made by the singer against an artist like him had made “Tamils all over the world extremely angry.”