Filmmaker accuses director of harassment

Chennai: With the The #MeToo movement gaining momentum, Tamil poetess and filmmaker Leena Manimekalai Tuesday alleged that film director Susi Ganesan locked her up in his car about 13 years back and threatened her to accompany him to his apartment.  However the director trashed the charges, terming them as “outright, false and libellous,” adding he has filed a police complaint to prevent Manimekalai from spreading “slanderous” content on the social media.  “I will be filing both civil and criminal defamation cases against her in court,” he said.

The accusation comes days after singer Chinmayi Sripaada accused lyricist Vairamuthu of misconduct days ago. The lyricist had denied the allegation.

Leena in a tweet said, “I am gathering courage to write more of my experiences. Let me start with this. Film director who locked me up in the car when I started as a television anchor is Susi Ganesan. Hope more voices join me to be heard. #metoo.”

She also gave a link to her February 20, 2017 Facebook post in which she had narrated her alleged ordeal, without naming the director.

In the post, she said the incident that occurred could be in 2005 when she was working as a content producer and anchor for a television channel.

Ganesan offered to drop her home in his car. However some time after she got in, his tone changed and the central lock system was activated, she alleged.

“He switched off my mobile and threw it somewhere inside the car and threatened me to come to his apartment.”

Manimekalai said she first politely requested him to allow her to go and then screamed and threatened to break open the door.

She said a small knife she carried in her handbag ‘helped’ her get down near her house later and get back her mobile phone too.

She did not specify whether she threatened Susi Ganesan with the knife or if she intimidated him, saying that she would harm herself.

The filmmaker told reporters here that the ‘metoo’ movement has lent her courage to speak out now.

Reacting to Ganesan's comment that he would take legal action, she said “it is escapism.”Asked why she had not disclosed the alleged harassment that year to anyone, she said society at large must also take the blame for it. “For a change, question the aggressor,” she said.

Leena Manimekalai is a poetess and filmmaker whose debut fiction work 'Sengadal' (the dead sea) won her the NAWFF award at Tokyo for the Best Asian film years ago.    

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