Reality in dreamworld
Assault on female actor, arrest of a superstar rock Kerala and its film industry
The Kerala film industry is currently in the news for all the wrong reasons: The arrest of a superstar in a case pertaining to the conspiracy behind the abduction and assault of a leading female actor, his alleged connections with criminals, gender bias that leads to exploitation and victimisation of women working in the industry, discrimination against actors and directors, unholy nexus among stars, film-makers and politicians, etc. The first signs of the rot came out after the young, leading actor was subjected to inhuman assault on the night of February 17 in a moving car by a gang headed by a criminal close to the industry's leaders. Though allegations of conspiracy came up immediately after the attack, the attention got diverted after the Marxist Chief Minister ruled out any plot after the arrest of the gang leader. However, the police brought it up once again through a very discreet probe that led to the arrest of Dileep, the first superstar in Kerala to go to jail in a criminal case, on July 10, for giving a Rs 1.5-crore ‘quotation' for attacking the actor over reasons whose full extent is yet to be known. The developments that preceded and followed the arrest put the entire State to shame. Even when it was clear that the arrest was imminent, the actors' association stood behind the superstar despite the fact that the victim was also its member. Outfits of film producers, distributors and exhibitors followed suit, making Dileep's extent of interests and influence clear. Two MLAs and an MP, Leftists and leading actors, drew flak for vehemently defending Dileep. There were allegations of interference at the highest political level in the police's investigation process. Quite surprisingly, the scene changed immediately after the arrest. All film-related associations expelled Dileep — he had membership in almost all of them. Their leaders demanded fitting punishment for him for giving a ‘quotation' to torment a “younger sister”. On the streets, the same people, who were his fans till the other day, booed him and howled slogans against him when the police took him to jail and court. The developments — the attack on the female actor, the cover-up efforts, the attempts to protect the conspirator while condemning the tormentor, the arrest of the superstar, etc — reconfirmed the long-felt suspicion that the Malayalam film industry is in the grip of a new kind of mafia, where a group of elites and their cronies decide everything.
However, winds of change seem to be blowing across the Kerala film industry after the attack on the actor, the arrest of Dileep and other subsequent developments. Women in the industry have said enough is enough and made their determination to question male supremacy clear by forming an association of their own. Sharp differences have surfaced in the associations of actors, technicians, distributors and exhibitors and new outfits have started coming in all these sectors. However, people with close knowledge about the functioning of the film industry are certain that stemming the rot is not all that easy. What has happened in the Malayalam film industry holds important messages for not just itself but for the others in the field in the country as well.
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