With Dileep's resignation, AMMA, WCC seem on the same page after long drawn battle

Sreedhar Pillai

Oct 20, 2018 10:34:26 IST

Two associations in Malayalam cinema – the all powerful AMMA (Association of Malayalam Movie Artists) and WCC (Women’s Collective in Cinema) have been in a long battle. The ongoing tussle between these two organisations has split Malayalam cinema into two halves. On 13 October, the meeting of the WCC took the bull by its horn and named superstar Mohanlal, the AMMA president, of showing disrespect to them and also shielding Dileep in the actress kidnapping and molestation case.

The WCC top brass, Revathi, Padmapriya and Parvathy, blamed Mohanlal and other AMMA office-bearers of “protecting Dileep”. They also said Mohanlal took a “apathetic stance” towards the survivor at a time when the nation and film industry were extending support to women in the #MeToo campaign. They wanted Mohanlal to clearly spell out his and AMMA’s stance about the decision to reinstate Dileep. They also alleged that there was no safety for women in the industry, especially at far away locations, during the shoot.

 With Dileeps resignation, AMMA, WCC seem on the same page after long drawn battle

Mohanlal and Dileep. Twitter

Jagadeesh, actor, politician and treasurer of AMMA, said it was not right to blame Mohanlal alone for bringing back Dileep , as it was an executive committee decision. He also said unless a court proves that Dileep is guilty, no action can be taken against him. AMMA is also willing to bring back all those members who left the association. They said that the need of the hour is unity. However, Jagadeesh was critical about certain other members of AMMA, notably Siddique, Ganesh Kumar MLA (to whom he lost in the state assembly election) and Mukesh MLA ( allegations of sexual harassment, in the ongoing #MeToo movement, have surfaced against him). Jagadeesh believes these actors are largely responsible for all the mess in AMMA.

Meanwhile, actor Siddique, a long time supporter of Dileep (in every film of the actor, Siddique finds a role as father, brother, friend or villain) and the secretary of AMMA, said at a press meet that there was no need for an urgent meet of the general body, as demanded by WCC . He also made it clear that WCC should apologise to AMMA, and Mohanlal in particular. Siddique said, “It is clear WCC is on a single point agenda they want to defame Mohanlal and we will not allow them to tar his image. There is some vested interest (of those) who are on a smear campaign against AMMA. ”

Veteran character actress KPAC Lalitha (who has played Mohanlal’s mom in many films) said, “ AMMA is not some kind of union. It is a welfare association that has done service to former actors who fell on hard times. Apart from these four female actors who have resigned, there are many other actors who are under the AMMA fold.”

In fact, inside AMMA, nobody wants to bring back WCC members but wants to take strict action against them. There is already a non-cooperative movement, with actors inside WCC losing out roles and offers in films dominated by AMMA members. Parvathy has pointed out in an interview that if any actress gets associated with WCC, they start losing opportunities in mainstream Malayalam films. Fan clubs of the superstars start trolling them on social media in the most abusive manner, with rape threats being issued to some of the WCC members.

Firstpost learns from sources that Manju Warrier, Dileep’s ex-wife, one of the early supporters of the survivor and a founding member of WCC, has been silenced. The rumour mill has it that Manju has quit WCC, though sources close to her deny it. But the actress is no longer seen in the company of WCC members for the last few months. She has been keeping a low profile. Manju has left the WCC WhatsApp group, where members have internal discussions.

Manju’s big budget film Odiyaan has Mohanlal in the lead and is directed by VA Shreekumar and is all set for release in December. Two of her solo heroine films Aami (Writer Kamala Das' biopic) and Mohanlal (where she played a crazy fan of the superstar) were disasters at the box office. She is also playing a very crucial role in Prithviraj-directed Mohanlal action drama Lucifer. A veteran actress, who is part of AMMA, said, “In no way can Manju been seen in the company of WCC members if she has to further her career in Malayalam cinema. It is obvious the young heroes of today will not pair opposite to her in romantic roles, but in Mohanlal and Mammootty films, she can still play the heroine.”

However, what has surprised the film industry is the way Prithviraj, the lone actor who was a big critic of AMMA and had even put out a blog in support of the survivor, is now keeping a studious silence. The actor is now directing Mohanlal’s big budget action entertainer Lucifer for Antony Perumbavoor, the superstar’s hatchet man and leading producer. During the last year, Prithviraj had made it a point to distance himself from WCC members. It is going to be an uphill task for WCC as they take on Mohanlal, who has the strong support of all who matter in Malayalam cinema, including its new rising superstars, producers, distributors and exhibitors.

The first real test will be a meeting of AMMA office bearers held on 19 October in Kochi to discuss the allegations made by WCC. More trouble is expected as another actress, Divya Gopinath, has come out with a Facebook post on popular character actor Alencier in connection with a #MeToo movement against her. Alencier is a very busy character actor and also an activist who does street plays. He is also a member of AMMA. Mohanlal has enough on his plate at a time when his cameo appearance, as Ithikara Pakki in Kayamkulam Kochunniis being celebrated by his fans.           

At the AMMA meeting held in Kochi today, Mohanlal made it clear that he had called Dileep and had asked him to tender his resignation. Mohanlal said, “He readily gave it and we have accepted his resignation.” In short, Mohanlal and AMMA have bent to accommodate almost all the demands made by WCC. Mohanlal made it clear the four actors who resigned from AMMA are welcome back and they need not apologise (a demand made by Siddique and others). No action will be taken against them, as of now, for criticising AMMA. Mohanlal also confessed that he is not happy with certain happenings in AMMA, but he wants the organisation to be united in these difficult times.

Updated Date: Oct 20, 2018 10:34:26 IST