Malayalam director Major Ravi is in the eye of a storm once again. An audio clip is doing the rounds on social media networks, supposedly posted by the director on a right wing WhatsApp group. The communally charged message in the group asks Hindus to unite and rise against ‘them’ who organize attacks against the community.
“They have attacked our temples now and soon you will find them inside your homes. If Hindus do not unite and rise against this…. Pass this message to everyone,” the audio clip says.
The clip is reportedly in connection with Malabar Devaswom Board taking over Guruvayoor Parthasarathy Temple.
In the clip, a person believed to be Major Ravi introduces himself and claims that he spoke to BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan just before sending the message. He then warns that it is high time that Hindus stood up for themselves.
The clip then goes on to talk about why he was reluctant to ‘take the lead’ on the issue, claiming his ‘past experiences of speaking out for Hinduism’ had left him scarred.
“I now take a back seat because when I took initiative to voice out against a journalist who called Durga devi a sex worker, I was castigated by media and people from all religions for my remarks. I did say that I would spit on her (the female journalist) for the comment. I was surprised that I didn’t see any Hindu’s blood boiling then. They all had a ‘this doesn’t affect me’ attitude,” the audio says.
What he is referring to is an incident in 2016, when a case was registered against Major Ravi based on a complaint filed by journalist Sindhu Sooryakumar. This, after Ravi reacted to a television debate hosted by Sindhu on celebrating Mahishasura Jayanthi. Although the discussion centered around whether celebrating Mahishasura Jayanthi would be an act of treason, rumours spread that Sindhu had found nothing wrong in terming goddess Durga as a sex worker. She was at the receiving end of severe verbal abuse online, including from Major Ravi. At a public event, he said: “It is her culture. She will not have any problem in someone calling her own mother a prostitute. If I get permission I would like to spit on her face."
“I have decided to speak now as my blood is boiling… As Hindus we should forge against the forces that have attacked our temples. Are you all waiting for them to enter your own houses? Stop thinking only about yourselves, think collectively as Hindus. It is high time that we unite and rise,” the audio says.
Rajiv Gandhi Study Circle chairman VR Anoop has filed a complaint with the police asking them to register an FIR against Major Ravi under IPC 153A and 505 (2) for supposedly making the hate speech.
Major Ravi had served in the Indian Army for about two decades, after which he turned to film-making. He has worked with all the top Malayalam stars including Mammootty and Mohanlal, and his films usually focus on nationalism and patriotism, and the armed forces. His first film Keerti Chakra was on the Kashmir militancy, starring Mohanlal. His second movie, Mission 90 Days, was his personal account of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. His film on Kargil War called Kurukshetra, starring Mohanlal, was a sequel to Keerti Chakra. Mohanlal played the role of Major Mahadevan in these films. Ravi’s 2010 film Kandahar was a third installment to the Major Mahadevan film series.
This is not the first time the Malayalam director finding himself in the middle of a controversy. It was reported that Ravi, while speaking at the World Hindu Congress held at Delhi in 2015, had remarked that he filmed movies on Indian Army to teach Muslims in certain parts of Kerala what patriotism was all about.
Ravi had then taken to Facebook to reject all the allegations made against him. In his Facebook post Ravi said, “People believe a post done by a media which was misinterpreted by someone to make news. Please don’t forget my films where I said, the Muslims of India don't want to be called as Indian Muslims, but Indians. I never showed casteism, but patriotism by all Indians in films. I told the people that even in Kargil, how the Muslim battalion did a crucial battle to capture a mountain at the final stage. Because, it was my duty to highlight the truth and culture of our country, to show to the public, so that we don’t hate each other.”
Though the director denied all the allegations, he was heavily criticised by noted filmmakers like Kamal and B Unnikrishnan. Director Kamal had said that Ravi should apologise to his audience for dragging communalism into art.