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Kannada filmdom divided over #MeToo

Though some actors and technicians are supporting multi-lingual actor Sruthi Hariharan, who has accused actor and director Arjun Sarja of “inappropriate” and “sexually-coloured” conduct, another section of the Kannada film industry, especially film bodies, are standing behind Mr. Sarja. Even Karnataka Film Artistes’ Association (KFAA) threw its weight behind Mr. Sarja.

While some senior artistes are vouching for Mr. Arjun and saying that Ms. Sruthi should have thought twice before levelling allegations against him, contemporary actors are asking whether female leads should keep quiet when they are harassed.

The Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC), the umbrella body of the Kannada film industry, intervened to reconcile the issue on Monday, with veteran actor Rajesh, father-in-law of Mr. Arjun complaining before it against Ms. Sruthi. Mr. Rajesh said he was seeking justice for defamation against his son-in-law.

With the increase in complaints of “harassment” and “inappropriate” conduct against women, the KFCC has referred the issue to the Kendra Sandhana Samiti (Central Reconciliation Committee), to find an amicable solution to the vexed issue.

S.A. Chinne Gowda, president of the KFCC, told
The Hindu
that following receipt of Mr. Rajesh’s complaint, the KFCC, after protracted deliberation, decided to hand over the complaint to the CRC. The committee comprises representatives of all the allied bodies of the Kannada film industry, besides veteran actors, technicians, producers, distributors and exhibitors. “The CRC has a history of resolving hundreds of issues in the film industry. It will meet on Thursday to sort out the issue by summoning parties concerned,” he said.

The former president of KFCC, Sa. Ra. Govindu, said, “Any member of the Kannada film industry can complain to the CRC on any issue, including harassment of any kind, instead of going to the media. If anyone wants to settle the issue outside the ambit of the committee, they are free to do so and KFCC will not intervene.”

A few members of the Rajya Purusha Rakshana Samiti protested against those involved in #MeToo campaign in front of the KFCC building and demanded action against them.

Meanwhile, Film Industry for Rights and Equality (FIRE), which has formed an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) as per provisions of the law, is under attack by members of the KFCC for its support to Ms. Sruthi.

In another development, Prashant Sambargi, a close associate of Mr. Arjun, accused Chetan Ahimsa, secretary of FIRE, of taking revenge against Mr. Arjun by supporting Ms. Sruthi, as he was removed from the film, ‘Prema Baraha’, being produced by the accused actor.

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