The Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes has yet again failed to live up to what was expected of it as an influential film body comprising the most reputed personalities from Malayalam cinema.
On Sunday, AMMA, led by new president Mohanlal, decided to bring back actor Dileep into its fold after expelling him last year over his alleged role in the abduction and sexual assault of an actress. The decision prompted actresses Rima Kallingal, Remya Nambeesan, Geethu Mohandas and the survivor of the assault to resign from the association in protest on Wednesday. In a note on the Facebook page of the Women in Cinema Collective, one of the actresses described AMMA’s stance as “inhumane” and “deceitful”. The assault victim added that she felt there was no purpose being part of an organisation that chose to protect a man accused of a crime against one of its members.
Dileep has been charged with masterminding the February 2017 incident in which a group of men allegedly held the actress hostage for two hours in a moving vehicle while they assaulted her and took photographs of her. It is alleged that Dileep wanted to settle a personal score with the actress.
The 50-year-old actor was arrested in July and was granted bail on October 3. The investigation and court proceedings are still underway, the actor. In June, Dileep demanded that the case be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation. While the chargesheet claims there is enough circumstantial evidence to prove Dileep’s role in the case, the actor has called the Kerala police “biased”.
Why was Dilip reinstated even though his innocence remains in doubt, and his alleged complicity was the reason for his expulsion in the first place? Some of AMMA’s members have allegedly claimed that “due process” was not followed in the actor’s expulsion. This complaint seems specious since it comes nearly after a year after Dileep’s expulsion. By welcoming Dileep back into the fold, AMMA has given out the message that it endorses his innocence, whatever the court verdict may be.
This is not the first time AMMA has shown its reluctance to support the survivor in the case. Exactly a year ago, the organisation convened for the first time since the assault under the leadership of actor Innocent in Kochi. It was expected that the film body would make some sort of a statement condemning the assault. Instead, Innocent told press persons that “no one raised the issue at the meeting”.
Rima Kallingal had corrected Innocent at the time and said that she did bring up the assault, but it was not discussed.
Dileep was the treasurer of AMMA before his expulsion. The actor is believed to wield considerable influence and power within the Malayalam film industry. As is the case with Sanjay Dutt and Salman Khan, whose careers have been helped along by notoriety, Dileep’s popularity among his fanbase seems to have been unaffected by the case, if the success of his recent release Kammarasambhavam is anything to go by.
The most unfortunate outcome of AMMA’s conduct over the past year has been its failure to support the creation of safe workspaces for women and its disregard for Malayalam cinema’s MeToo moment. By reinstating Dileep, AMMA has proven that it does not care to be seen as standing up for what is right.