Support has been pouring in for the four actresses, who resigned from AMMA (Association Of Malayalam Movie Actors) and stood up against its patriarchal leadership that reinstated Dileep. The actor was expelled from the fold in July after he was arrested by the police for allegedly conspiring to kidnap and rape a colleague.
Filmmaker Aashiq Abu, in a Facebook post, lashed out at the associations in Malayalam cinema, accusing them of functioning like the mafia inside the film industry. “They turned a section of the audience into goons and created fan associations to clamp down any dissenting voice, especially a female voice. They blackmail, physically assault, threaten or unleash violent hate campaign on social media platforms,” said Aashiq. “They dared to assault a colleague, a young actress, on a city road at midnight, because they had money, power and the support of these fan groups who would go to any extend for their masters,” he said.
Superstar Mammootty, in whose name several fan associations carried out an organised attack on actress Parvathy on social media and YouTube, finds an unflattering mention in Aashiq’s post. “When Parvathy (Thiruvoth) was subjected to brutal online attack by these goons, Mammootty kept quiet, so did the Kerala society. These girls fought it all alone. The attacks on people who speak out and stand with the rape survivor, continue even now… Who gave them the licence to verbally and physically abuse women, issue rape threats and control the film industry? Why hasn’t FEFKA (Film Employees’ Federation of Kerala) reacted to this human rights violation?” he asks, adding that director B Unnikrishnan, president of FEFKA, has cast Dileep in his next film.
Aashiq urges political parties in the state to intervene in order to rein in the fan associations and to ensure that the rape survivor gets justice.
Actor Prithviraj, the only male star to publicly speak in solidarity with the rape survivor in 2017, said that he was “with the actresses who resigned from AMMA”. In an interview to The Week, the actor said, “I completely understand why Remya, Geethu and Rima resigned from AMMA. I appreciate their courage and applaud the decision. I am with them. There may be people who criticise them but I believe that right or wrong depends on one’s perception.”
The sexual assault of his colleague was one of the saddest incidents in his life, said Prithviraj. “I am yet to recover from the pain that it caused. She is still a very close friend of mine and I respect her immensely for the courage that she has shown. It was easier for her to keep silent or even to move on. But the fact that she did not succumb to any pressure and decided to fight makes her so special. Her fight is not just for herself but for all the women in the industry and even outside it. I certainly believe her case is a turning point in the Malayalam film industry,” he said.
Unlike Aashiq Abu, Prithviraj refused to write off AMMA completely. “I believe that AMMA is an organisation which can do wonders to the film industry if it decides so. Though I am also a member of AMMA, I have never been actively part of its activities. So I am also to be blamed. But one must also admit that AMMA has done some commendable job in helping needy and ailing actors,” he said. When asked if he would act with Dileep in case an offer comes, he said that he “will take a call on it as and when it happens.”
The AIYF (All India Youth Federation), a students’ wing of the CPI, burnt an effigy of Mohanlal, the incumbent president of AMMA, in front of the office of Film Chamber in Kochi on Thursday. The DYFI (Democratic Youth Federation Of India), another left party, asked the leadership of AMMA to stand with the rape survivor, and condemned their decision to reinstall Dileep.