Costume designer Liji Preman accuses director Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval of mental harassment

Liji spent 110 days working on 'Sureshanteyum...' and mentioned that she encountered issues with the director even during the pre-production phase.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jun 11, 2024 | 10:52 PMUpdatedJun 11, 2024 | 11:07 PM

Stills of Liji Preman and Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval.

Costume designer Liji Preman has filed a petition at the Ernakulam Munsiff Court against Malayalam director Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval, as well as producers Ajith Thalapilly and Emmanuel Joseph, who are behind the recent Malayalam film, Sureshanteyum Sumalathayudeyum Hridhayahaariyaya Pranayakadha (2024).

In the petition, Liji Preman alleged that her name was omitted from the credits of the movie Sureshanteyum…, despite her having worked on the film for 110 days.

Liji further accused the filmmaker of mental harassment. Additionally, she has filed a separate complaint with the police regarding these issues.

In the petition, Liji Preman claimed that the crew informed her the shooting would last only 45 days. She requested a remuneration of ₹2.5 lakh and was given an advance payment of ₹1 lakh.

The petition stated that she later received an additional ₹50,000 but is still owed the remaining balance of her remuneration.

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Liji spent 110 days working on the film and mentioned that she encountered issues with the director even during the pre-production phase.

Liji stated that although her work for the movie was appreciated by the directors and artistes before the shooting began, the peaceful atmosphere disappeared once the shooting started.

Liji stated in the petition that Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval behaved rudely and indifferently towards everyone on set, criticising everyone involved. Due to his behaviour, two of the art directors left the project.

She alleged that the director had ego issues, treated her like a maid, and behaved as if he had a personal grudge against her.

'Sureshanteyaum Sumalathayudeyum Hridayahariyaya Pranayakadha' is directed by Ratheesh Poduval

‘Sureshanteyaum Sumalathayudeyum Hridayahariyaya Pranayakadha’ is directed by Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval. (Supplied)

Liji said she decided to leave the project because of these issues, but by that time, she had already completed around 75 percent of the work.

The petition also claimed that the director used obscene language towards her, verbally insulting and abusing her in front of the artistes and her assistants.

Complaint to FEFKA

Liji approached the Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA) upon discovering her name was omitted from the movie’s credits and she had not received her full remuneration.

FEFKA members facilitated a compromise discussion at the producers’ association office before the film’s release.

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Liji claimed that despite the crew and producers being willing to credit her, the director insisted her name was unnecessary and opposed its inclusion.

She added that the producers intervened twice to credit her, but the director refused, and her name did not appear on the posters either.

Following the film’s release, she found her credit listed as ‘first unit costume’, while another designer was credited as the main costume designer.

Feeling insulted after working as a costume designer for 12 years, she expressed that she did not wish to create controversy during the film’s release.

‘Include my name’

Liji strongly emphasised her request for her name to be included in the credits when the film is released on OTT platforms.

In a recent interview with the New Indian Express, Ratheesh, known for directing critically acclaimed films like Nna Thaan Case Kodu (2022) and Android Kunjappan Version 5.25 (2019), admitted to being short-tempered and stated that he raises his voice on set while giving instructions.

He believes this approach ensures clarity for everyone involved and conserves energy that would otherwise be spent communicating individually with department heads, technical crew, and artistes.

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