Playback singer, Chinmayi Sripada exposed Tamil lyricist Vairamuthu for sexually harassing her on work trips 13 years ago and threatening to end her career when she didn’t respond. He denied it, but other women were inspired to come forward with their harrowing experiences with the lyricist.
Sripada speaking up has highlighted the kind of discrimination that those in the performing arts face. Since she spoke up, she’s inspired other upcoming musicians like Sindhuja Rajaram, to speak up about the toxicity that exists in the music industry. She’s also had to face tremendous backlash, including scepticism about her motives for speaking up so many years later. Some people accused her of picking on Vairamuthu because of caste, while others said that she was backed by the BJP and RSS. Her case is a study in the challenges that women standing up to sexual harassment have to face. Soon after she called out Vairamuthu, she was sacked from the dubbing union of Tamil films.
“It has been harrowing and Tamil Nadu has been specific about shaming victims. They called me a slut and prostitute. It is very difficult, and it moves me to tears even now. I don’t know what will be left of my career and I don’t know if people will work with me. Women who raise their voices are ‘troublemakers’, men who raise their voices are ‘alpha-males’; women who are ambitious are ‘bitches’, men who are ambitious are ‘leaders’. So, it is going to be an uphill task. I don’t think I will get work in Tamil Nadu again.”