ONV literary award to Me Too accused Vairamuthu to be reconsidered after Parvathy, others slam jury
- The award, instituted in memory of Malayalam poet ONV Kurup, was given to Vairamuthu but his candidature unleased a barrage of protest as he was accused by several women of sexual harassment during India's 2018 Me Too movement.
The ONV Cultural Academy, which had recently presented the award for this year to Tamil poet-lyricist Vairamuthu, has said it will reconsider its decision after it was slammed by multiple voices from the Malayalam film industry.
The award, instituted in memory of poet ONV Kurup, is awarded to poets from Malayalam and other Indian languages. This is the first time a non-Malayali is being conferred with this award.
The ONV honour for Vairamuthu faced severe backlash because he has been accused by 17 women of sexual harassment. In 2018, during the Me Too movement, singer and dubbing artist Chinmayi Sripaada named Vairamuthu. 16 other women had called out the veteran lyricist.
On Thursday, actor Parvathy slammed the jury headed by veteran filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan on their decision to present Vairamuthu, a Me Too accused, with the prestigious award. She said it’s a huge disrespect to ONV Kurup.
He note on Instagram read: “ONV Sir is our pride. His contribution as a poet and lyricist is incomparable. How it has nourished our culture. Our hearts and minds have benefited through his body of work. This is exactly why it is immense disrespect to give such an honour in his name to the accused of sexual assault crimes."
As per a report by The News Minute, the head of the jury for ONV award Adoor Gopalakrishnan said that they will reconsider the decision.
“At the instance of the selection committee, the award is now under reconsideration,” read a statement, the report added.
The academy's decision to honour Vairamuthu with the award was announced on May 26. Soon after, it was heavily criticised, with many publicly opposing the decision. Earlier, Adoor, who had backed the choice of Vairamuthu, had said that the award is given for excellence in writing. It wasn't done so after examining a person's character.
“Vairamuthu was considered by the jury for his excellent writing. I do not know if the jury knows he is a person facing such charges. My personal opinion is that awards should not be decided on the basis of character. As chairman of the Cultural Society, I do not interfere in the decisions of the jury,” Adoor had said to Malayalam web portal, The Cue.