Malayalam actress Swetha Menon, who had accused senior Congress MP Peethambara Kurup for allegedly groping her at a public function in Kollam, Kerala, says she was not pressurised to withdraw her complaint. She also claims that it wasn't a publicity stunt.
"No, it was on humanitarian grounds that I withdrew my case. I didn't succumb to any pressure. I gave dignity to his age by withdrawing the complaint," she said.
"It was never my intention to create any controversy. I only wanted what had happened to me to come out in the public domain," added the actress who had allowed her child's delivery to be captured live for Blessy's film Kalimannu.
On Nov 2, she showed visuals from TV channels, where the lawmaker was shown getting close to her during the boat race.
In an email to the media on Sunday, she said she was not interested in pursuing her complaint and was not going ahead with any legal steps in the wake of repeated apologies by Kurup, which has been accepted.
Q: Swetha, what happened?
A: Well, by now what happened is public knowledge. I've spoken about the nightmarish experience I had. It isn't easy for a girl to come out with something like this. But I had to expose the misdeed. So many girls go through this and make the mistake of not talking about it. I was going to file a formal police case and meet the chief minister.
Q: But then why did you decide to withdraw your complaint?
A: (Sighs deeply) He is a 72-year-old man who admitted his mistake. My husband, my spiritual Guruji and my father convinced me to accept the apology. Actually, my father, who is 80 years old, made up my mind for me. He pointed out to me that at that age it is very difficult for a man to own up to his mistake and even more difficult for him to apologise for his mistake publicly. But he (Peethambara) did it.
Q: It's being said you were pressurized to withdraw your complaint?
A: (Vehemently) Not true at all. There was no pressure from any quarters. And you've known me for years. Do you think I'd give in to pressure of any kind? No, it was on humanitarian grounds that I withdrew my case. I didn't succumb to any pressure. I gave dignity to his age by withdrawing the complaint.
Q: It is also said that the controversy was created for publicity?
A: I never did anything for publicity in Bollywood. Why would I do it in South where I am doing well for myself? It was never my intention to create any controversy. I only wanted what had happened to me to come out in the public domain.
Q: Do you think you might have misunderstood or misconstrued the guy's intentions?
A: If you were a woman, you'd never ask this question. A girl knows exactly when she is touched in the wrong way. And there was definitely something not quite right about the whole thing. It is easy for someone outside to imagine that there might be a misunderstanding. But a girl who goes through this knows what the other person's intention is.
Q: Bollywood was never fair to you in spite of good performances in Mahesh Manjrekar's Praan Jaye Par Shaan Na Jaaye and Bandhan. You've come a long way.
A: Yes, it's been a long journey. But no regrets. I enjoyed my stint in Bollywood. Then I started getting offers in Malayalam cinema. And here I am. You never know what life has in store for you.