Published: 03rd October 2020
I shot the video when he started misbehaving: Kerala student who questioned controversial YouTuber Vijay Nair
Sreelakshmi Arackal, along with dubbing actor Bhagyalakshmi and activist Diya Sana questioned the YouTuber, poured black ink and slapped him
A few days ago, the people of Kerala were shocked to see a rather bizarre video being circulated all over social media. The video, which originally appeared on the timeline of a 24-year-old BEd student Sreelakshmi Arackal, shows two women - dubbing actor Bhagyalakshmi and activist Diya Sana questioning a man, in quite a harsh tone. At one point, the women poured black ink on his face and slapped him, while Sreelakshmi shot the video. Abuses were hurled at him.
The man was Vijay P Nair, a YouTuber, who had uploaded a tasteless video, that questioned the character of feminists in Kerala. "It was done on an impulse," says Sreelakshmi. While the women were lauded by the likes of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Health Minister K K Shailaja, many were quick to troll and threaten them and indulge in name-calling. Soon, a case was slapped on them.
It was around that time that a twelve-year-old messaged Sreelakshmi Arackal. The message read, "Teacher, I am now a feminist." If not elated, Sreelakshmi was immensely proud. In fact, this, she says was the best message that she had received in the past few days.
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"That boy was utterly stressed. He is quite dear to me. I tutor him privately," she says. "When he heard that a non-bailable offense was charged against me. He feared that I may be put behind bars," she says. However, she is happy to introduce feminist principles to the young generation. "My teachers never taught me any of this. But I thought that it was my responsibility to talk to these young children about these issues," says Sreelakshmi.
Growing up in a house that only has women in it, she says, was what introduced her to feminism. "My parents' was a sham marriage. My mother realised it only a few days after I was born. She never met that man after that. But this didn't break her," she says. "I grew up with a mother who stood up, fearlessly against injustice. She was quite active in politics and would attend meetings late at night. She never cared about what others said," she says.
Sreelakshmi is now, almost immune to trolls. However, they still affect and sometimes offend her, especially when the trolls target her body and character. "The nature of the content that I put up on social media isn't quite acceptable for conservatives and conformists," she says. The topics that she talks about range from menstrual cups to female masturbation. "These are healthy conversations that everyone must-have. I do not understanad what is there in it to get offended. Instead of listening, people try to make offensive remarks on my body," she says.
At the same time, she says that she makes a conscious effort to not use cuss words or abuses in the comments. "I was really angry at Vijay Nair. The three of us went to his place to talk to him about the video. But then, he started misbehaving and tried to touch us. That was when I decided to shoot the video. You won't believe, but my hands trembled at that time," she says. "That was when he suddenly changed his tone and started talking decently. Hurling abuses at him was an impulse reaction. But immediately, I realised that I was live on Facebook. I immediately kept quiet," she says.