Oscar winner Resul Pookutty, through a Facebook post, came to the defense of Mohanlal and said that he found nothing wrong in featuring a mainstream actor as the chief guest of the Kerala State Film Awards. He cited this as the reason for not signing the petition that carried more than 100 signatures.
“Whoever is invited as a chief guest is part of the larger spectrum of cinema, mainstream or independent… there is no reason why an independent filmmaker should feel inferior to a mainstream filmmaker or an actor,” he wrote.
When news broke that this year’s State Awards ceremony, in addition to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, would feature Mohanlal as the chief guest, several prominent figures came together to sign a petition demanding that the Cultural Affairs Ministry not tweak the existing system. They said that having an actor – whose movies are in the running for the same awards – hand out prizes would ‘belittle’ the winners.
Responding to this, Pookutty told Silverscreen, “I don’t understand how calling a stalwart like Mohanlal diminishes the ceremony.” He said the argument came from a group that considered themselves intellectually superior.
While agreeing with the petitioners that the Chief Minister was the ideal person to hand out the awards, Pookutty in his post maintained that he “could not be a part of a group that asked people to stay from State Awards. “Moreover, how can one group from the industry demand that another be not a part of the ceremony? ” he asked.
He added that it was the mainstream films that sustained the business of cinema. Dictating terms to an elected government over whom to invite for an award ceremony didn’t make anyone a ‘flag-bearer’ of good cinema. “That shouldn’t be the tone of an independent film-maker,” he said.
Bringing artistes from mainstream and independent sections under an umbrella like the state awards was an inclusive practice and was better than seeing them together at paid private shows. “Unlike the private award ceremonies which are usually held in cities, the government is actually popularizing the state awards by conducting it in small villages and by inviting mainstream actors,” he said. He pointed out an occasion in the recent past when people thronged the venue of the award show when it was conducted in a small town in Palghat.
He quoted the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) as an example to prove this point where mainstream actors are featured during the closing ceremony. He also quoted the recent move by the Oscar Academy that decided to induct more people for voting. He said the similar move by the State Government was in the right direction and aimed at inclusiveness.
He went on to call Adoor Gopalakrishnan ‘the only living legend of Indian Cinema’ and hoped that he would not sign the petition. He concluded the post saying, “So my friends, please grow up.”
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