The ONV Award that was to be given to poet Vairamuthu is to be reexamined
The ONV Academy recently announced that this year the prestigious ONV award is to be presented to poet and lyricist Vairamuthu. The poet has been embroiled in #Metoo allegations and 17 women have alleged that he has sexually harassed them. Many actors, directors and women’s rights activists have voiced their protest against ONV Academy’s decision to award the Tamil poet. Rima Kallingal tweeted, “Vairamuthu has been called out for sexual harassment by 17 women.”
Actor Parvathy took to social media to voice her protest against the announcement. She wrote, “17 women have come out with their stories. We don’t know how many more have been wronged. There seems to be enough whataboutery to continue wronging those who are wronged. Only to uphold the reputation of those in power. Nothing is more important than humanity. If you come at me with the art vs artist debate, let me tell you that for me the humanity of the person creating the art is the only thing I’d choose to look at. I can live without the “art” of those who hollow out lives with absolute impunity. How do you justify this? Adoor Gopalakrishnan and the jury who decided to award Vairamuthu this honour (sic).” Director Anjali Menon also said that she was very disturbed to hear the announcement. She tweeted, “ONV Sir’s name resounds with deep sensitivity, dignity and respect for any Malayalee. Therefore very disturbed to know that ONV Academy has chosen an alleged perpetrator (called out by 17 women) for the #ONVAward. Are these the values they celebrate?”
The ONV Academy is headed by Adoor Gopalakrishnan. “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,” he had said to Malayalam web portal The Cue. Now the Academy has said in a statement that the award is being reconsidered.