Anna Vetticad is not new to such attacks, but the vicious nature of the abuse by Mammootty’s fans - from accusing her of ‘supporting child rape' to asking her to ‘eat shit’ and ‘drink semen juice' - has made her speak out.

Abused for her review of Mammoottys Ganagandharvan critic Anna Vetticad responds
news Misogyny Monday, October 07, 2019 - 16:12

Fans attacking film critics for negative reviews has become a common practice on social media. Firstpost’s film critic Anna Vetticad was recently subjected to such abuse over her review of the Malayalam film Ganagandharvan, starring Mammootty. Anna, who has been writing on cinema for years, is not new to such attacks, but the vicious nature of the long-running abuse by Mammootty fans - accusing her of supporting 'child rape' to asking her to ‘eat shit’ and ‘drink semen juice' - has made her speak out.

Ganagandharvan is about a singer who finds himself falsely accused of sexual harassment. The film creates the impression that the law is biased against men and that women can easily make false allegations of sexual violence and get away with it. Although Anna acknowledged in her review that there are such instances in real life, she also pointed out that such films "exaggerate the minuscule percentage of such episodes in the context of women-related laws - ignoring the humongous scale of violence and discrimination against women worldwide - to demonise feminism, feminists and systemic consideration for women."

The critic has since been hounded on social media and she says that there is a pattern to such attacks.

Speaking to TNM, Anna, who also reviews Hindi films, says, “All major stars have fans who get vicious when their deity is criticised. The difference lies in the nature of the abuse, which is often an indicator of the kind of cinema a star does and the image they have sought to build.”

“For instance, I have never got communal abuse from Mammootty fans or any Malayalam film fan ever, but Akshay Kumar fans these days are wallowing in Hindu victimhood and hatred for India’s minorities, in addition to being misogynists. Mammootty fans are singularly misogynistic. The venom they spew explains why they are drawn to the animosity towards women intrinsic to most Mammootty films these days,” she points out.

One Malayali abuser, Anna notes, has consistently been sending her vile comments since the time she reviewed Mammootty's The Great Father, two years ago. When Anna posted screenshots of the abuse on her social media pages, however, he implored her to take the images down.

A part of the screenshot sent by Anna Vetticad; TNM is not publishing the rest of the abuse which is far worse.

Anna previously came under extreme abuse for her review of Baahubali 2 and she even wrote about it on Firstpost. The critic says that her gender, presumed religious identity (from her name) and her journalism which covers various socio-political issues, makes her a favourite with online abusers.

Mammootty has been slow to respond to abuse done in his name and many argue that a star can't be held responsible for the behaviour of his fans. But, recently, when his fans sent hate mail to the National Awards jury chairperson for his film Peranbu getting ignored, Mammootty sent an apology as soon as the issue was brought to his attention. Anna says that she seldom bothers appealing to stars to rein in their fans because she knows it's of no use.

“Back when BJP supporters and Akshay Kumar fans joined forces to unleash a tsunami of abuse on me for my review of Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, tonnes of supportive Twitter users had tagged Akshay while condemning the trolling. He did not say a word. I almost never tag movie stars or politicians in tweets about their abusive fans because the abuse always comes from constituencies they nurture. This explains why after much criticism, Vijay issued only a vague statement on trolls attacking a woman journalist in his name, without a specific apology to her,” she says.

“This is also why Mammootty rushed to apologise to the National Awards jury chairperson Rahul Rawail who received hate mail from his fans recently, but had earlier refused to condemn those who went so far as to threaten Parvathy with rape for criticising Kasaba. Star fans argue that a star cannot be held responsible for his abusive fans. Then why did Mammootty feel responsible for fans abusing Rawail? The fact is, these male stars realise that an apology to a woman will be seen as a sign of weakness and they cannot afford that, because they have built their careers on the insecurities of men who resent smart, articulate, courageous women for challenging the male supremacy they are desperate to preserve,” she says.

Though dealing with the abuse takes its toll, Anna says that the attempts to gag her from expressing her opinions only convince her to persist.

“As women, we are used to misogyny, so I find myself better equipped to deal with it than the communal abuse I face online which shows me a side of my country that I was not aware of in the pre-Babri-demolition India I grew up in. Both forms of abuse make me sad of course, but I occasionally also laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Laughter is a great defence mechanism against such stress, and since I can’t afford to cry all day, I choose instead to be amused by the stupidity of trolls telling me that I wrote a review of Prem Ratan Dhan Payo on the instructions of the Pope. Yes please, go ahead and believe that Pope Francis has a hotline to my study and briefs me on film reviews,” she says with a laugh, and adds, “But seriously, trolling has made me defiant. If a review underlining the anti-women propaganda in Ganagandharvan riles up Mammootty fans so much, then it must be rocking their boat, and their abuse makes me more determined than ever to continue to say what I have to say.”

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