In his first press conference after taking over as president of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists’ last month, actor Mohanlal said that the decision to reinstate actor Dileep was taken at the Annual General Body Meeting on June 29 because no one had raised any objections. “A member can only be dismissed after discussing the matter in our general body. When the topic came for discussion, no one voiced any disagreement, and many members even spoke in Dileep’s favour,” Mohanlal said at the Press Club in Kochi on Monday.
The actor had been removed from the guild last year over his alleged involvement in the abduction and sexual assault of an actress. AMMA’s decision to welcome him back has generated criticism from several quarters.
According to The Indian Express, the Malayalam superstar further said, “The people who are raising voices of dissent today could have stood up at the meeting and raised a finger. We didn’t hear any of those voices that day.” The association has 484 members, of which 236 are women.
However, he said that since Dileep has turned down the association’s offer, he is not a part of the organisation at present.
The decision to reinstate Dileep has prompted widespread criticism from academics, filmmakers and artists across the country. The Women in Cinema Collective, formed after the alleged assault on the actress in February last year, had also registered its protest. Four of its members – Geetu Mohandas, Rima Kallingal, Remya Nambeesan and the assault survivor – had announced their resignation from AMMA.
However, Mohanlal claimed on Monday that the organisation had received only two official resignation letters, from the complainant and Nambeesan. The actor said AMMA had received a request for a meeting from the Women in Cinema Collective and was willing to set it up, but did not give a timeline.
The AMMA president denied the allegations that the survivor was being excluded and victimised by the industry. “As far as I know, there are no such tendencies in the industry. If she has any such grievances, it needs to be first discussed within the association. I was an office bearer of AMMA at that time. She has not submitted any written complaint to AMMA saying that Dileep is denying her chances to act. Same goes for the issue of women’s representation in AMMA,” he said.
Last week, AMMA General Secretary Edavela Babu justified the decision to reinstate actor Dileep, saying that he had been “expelled hastily” without “much thought on the subject”. Dileep turned down the decision to revoke his expulsion from the organisation on June 28. “While I thank my colleagues and office bearers of the association, I have decided to distance myself from any organisation until I prove my innocence,” he said.