Two days after being dropped from the Madras Music Academy’s Margazhi line-up, over #MeToo allegations naming him, Chitravina N Ravikiran took to Facebook to issue a third detailed statement denying any wrongdoing.
Ravikiran, who was the Academy’s Sangeetha Kalanidhi award recipient for 2017, is among seven ousted musicians, all of whom have been accused of sexual harassment in this ongoing #MeTooIndia movement.
The allegations against Ravikiran were made public by activist Radhika Ganesh on Twitter, who shared screenshots reportedly from the musician’s former students, detailing inappropriate behaviour.
One of the screenshots has a female student (whose identity has been concealed) sharing an account of Ravikiran’s alleged attempts to forge an intimate relationship with her. She speaks of being taken on drives and remarks being made about her sex life, about being taken to her guru’s bedroom, and asked a sexually suggestive question. The student claims that when she turned down Ravikiran’s advances consistently, he turned on her during classes, demeaning her in front of her peers.
Speaking with The News Minute, a male friend of the female student, who also studied under Ravikiran, corroborated some parts of her account.
A second female student did the same, and alleged that Ravikiran had tried to behave in a similar manner with her as well, but ‘couldn’t get too far’. A third woman, speaking with The News Minute, claimed that Ravikiran had engaged in behaviour that seemed like he was ‘grooming (her) for consent’.
While the allegations were shared on social media by Radhika Ganesh only on 24 October, singer Chinmayi Sripaada had indicated in a tweet on 10 October that she was privy to #MeToo stories naming Ravikiran, among other artistes from the Carnatic music and dance sphere.
Ravikiran has denied these allegations.
On 12 October, he wrote in a Facebook post: “I have never sexually harassed anyone and am completely against such acts”.
He went on to cite measures he was taking in his personal capacity to ensure safer spaces for those pursuing Carnatic music: “Counselling disciples who face harassment in the art world...; urging them to form stronger collective fronts amongst their friends to counter this evil; encouraging them to discuss it with parents/family rather than suppress it for years; brainstorming with a few about organising special socio-cultural events to increase awareness regarding this”.
He also warned against #MeToo being hijacked by those with vested agendas.
Then, on 15 October, an in-depth feature on Ravikiran published by inmathi.com disclosed that he had been sexually abused in his teens. He goes on to refute the #MeToo allegations against him, asking for due process and for all accusations to be thoroughly investigated, saying: “To draw from our own Ramayana, there is a substantial difference between a Sita accusing Ravana vs a Shoorpanakha pointing fingers at Rama and Lakshmana.”
The latest Facebook post, shared on 27 October, includes screenshots of emails he exchanged with the first female student whose #MeToo allegations were shared by Radhika Ganesh. Ravikiran says the tone and content of the emails indicates that the girl was not being controlled by him as she claims to have been, or studying music under him in conditions of extreme duress.
“They (the emails) will reveal that I took every possible effort to shape her music and career even as I helped her sort out issues/traumas that she was facing from other sources,” Ravikiran writes in his post.
As for the female student who accused Ravikiran, her reasons for continuing to learn music under him were — as per the screenshots shared by Radhika Ganesh — “to not uproot her musical career even as (she) avoided being harassed or molested”. She added that Ravikiran had threatened her career after she rejected her advances, and although she has since done reasonably well in the music field, she would “never forget the way he treated (her) and other women primarily as objects of sexual gratification, and also how those around Ravikiran enabled him to do so and “continued to enable his defense in the #MeToo movement”.
Updated Date: Oct 28, 2018 01:32 AM