Malayalam actress abduction case: How the Kerala film industry may have a role to play

TK Devasia

Feb 20, 2017 14:55:51 IST

The abduction and molestation of a popular actor in Kerala’s commercial capital of Kochi on Friday night is believed to be the result of the growing nexus between the criminals and the Malayalam film industry.

While the police probing the incident say that the 30-year-old actor was abducted by a seven-member gang based at Kochi for the purpose of extorting money, many in the industry feels that there could be more to it than meets the eye.

Malayalam actress abduction case: How the Kerala film industry may have a role to play

Representational photo. PTI

Vinayan, director and founder president of Malayalam Cine Technicians Association (MACTA), alleges connection between the incident and the unofficial ban imposed on the actor in Malayalam. He told a television channel that those who tried to keep the actor away from Malayalm films might be behind the abduction.

“The actress was forced to seek opportunities in Tamil and Kannada because of the tiff with the star. The abduction has come after she has tried to stage a comeback to Malayalam. Nobody can be blamed if they see a connection between the two,” says Vinayan, who has a running feud with one of the leading organisations of the Malalayalam film industry.

Vinayan’s allegation is not an isolated one. Many in the industry and outside have also aired similar charge. A senior leader of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is among those who have backed Vinayan.

Supporting the film director, former BJP state president V Muraleedharan said that the actor had started missing films in Malayalm after she had differences with a star.  He has urged the police to include this aspect in their investigation.

One of the names that figured in connection with the row was that of Dileep, who has big influence over the industry not only as an actor but also as a producer and leader of film exhibitors.

Also read: Tamil actress Varalaxmi Sarathkumar speaks out about sexual harassment, exploitation in film industry

Media reports said that trouble had started for the actress after she intervened in the marital dispute between Dileep and his ex-wife Manju Warrier, which resulted in a divorce last year.

It is alleged that the relation between the actress and the star had soured after the former sounded to Manju about an alleged illicit affair her husband had with fellow actress Kavya Madhavan, whom he married a year after his separation from Manju Warrier.

Without making a direct reference to the allegation, Dileep said that a section of the media was trying to twist the facts in the incident.

“What has happened in the state is shocking. The police investigation is going on in the right direction and they have asked media not to fabricate stories,” Dileep said.

The police team investigating the incident has refused to comment on the charge. A senior member of the team led by Ernakulam Rural Superintendent of Police (SP) AV George told Firstpost that they will investigate all aspects.

There are also allegations that the abduction was aimed at disrupting the film in which she is working or spooling her personal life. Incidentally, the abduction came after the actress announced her marriage with a Kannada producer.

Whatever be the case, none disputes the involvement of criminal elements in the case. Preliminary investigation revealed that a seven-member gang led by Sunilkumar alias Pulsar Sunil, a history sheeter from Perumbavur in Ernakulam, was behind the crime.

The gang followed the actor in a van while she was returning from a shoot at Thrissur and intercepted her near the Nedumbaserry International Airport and took her hostage.

Two of the gang members got into the actor’s car and shot her pictures and videos after allegedly molesting her.

Martin Antony, who drove the actor from Thrissur, was also found to be part of the conspiracy to kidnap her. The police have arrested him and two others. A look out notice has been issued for the main accused and the other remaining three, who include two members of a quotation gang.

The Nedumbassery police have registered a first information report (FIR) against the accused for abduction, rape, criminal conspiracy and criminal intimidation, apart from section 66 E of IT Act for taking the picture of the actor using mobile phones.

The investigation team has veered round to extortion as the main motive behind the abduction based on the statement of the arrested that Pulsar Suni had promised to pay them Rs.30 lakh after the incident. They were given to understand that the actress could be blackmailed.

However, the police do not rule out the possibility of Sunil getting support from the industry since he has been actively involved with its key members for several years. The investigating team suspects that some in the industry may have helped him escape after the crime.

His mobile phone call records revealed that some actors had called him soon after the incident. The police have refused to divulge the names of these actors. However, a source said that Sunil had strong connections with several key people in the industry.

This is the reason why he has been able to survive in the industry even after he was found involved in several criminal cases, including a similar case of abduction that involved actor Menaka Suresh five years ago. Even though a complaint was lodged against him then the police did not even file an FIR against him.

Sunil, who came to the industry as a driver ten years ago, had worked with several senior artistes, including Dileep and Mukesh, who was recently elected to the State Assembly. He had also worked for the abducted actor for about six months. She removed him after his criminal activities came to her notice.

Many believe that Sunil has connection with the drug mafia, which also have strong links with the film industry. The industry’s connection with the drug world had come to light following the arrest of an actor along with four women in January 2015.

MACTA Federation general secretary Baiju Kottarakkara said Sunil was a seasoned criminal, who could not have continued in the industry without support from powerful quarters. He said that the accused would not have found place in the industry if any organisation had notified his involvement in the criminal cases.

“The abduction of the artist is not an isolated case. The film industry has become home for criminals and drug addicts. The Film Employees Federation should stop giving membership to everyone who pays fees, without checking their background,” he said.

Writer N S Madhavan has openly criticised the underworld connections of Malayalam cinema. He said that many in the industry were deeply entrenched in the underworld.

Read on Firstpost: Malayalam actress molestation case update — Film fraternity unites, main accused still at large

Meanwhile, women’s activists have down heavily on the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government for not taking a serious view of the incident. They have pointed out the failure of Chief Minister to condemn the incident and the description of the incident as an isolated one by Communist Party of India (Marxist) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan as a clear sign of the lax manner in which the government is dealing with the case.

Popular dubbing artist and activist Bhagyalakshmi has viewed the incident as a clear sign of break down of law and order state. She said that the incidents of sexual abuse against women were on the increase in the state because of failure by the government to take strong action against the culprits.

Updated Date: Feb 21, 2017 11:53:25 IST

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