When protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act erupted across the country, Kerala made headlines when the ruling CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front as well as the Opposition — Congress-led United Democratic Front — came together to call out the BJP at the Centre. Not just politicians, activists and student groups but celebrities of the Malayalam film industry, too, have spoken up at a time when those in other film industries are being exhorted to speak up.
From actors like Parvathy, Rima Kallingal, Mammootty, Kunchacko Boban, Prithviraj, Indrajith, Dulquer Salmaan and Tovino Thomas to filmmakers like Aashiq Abu and Zakariya Mohammed, a host of prominent figures from the industry have spoken up against the Act and have lent support to those protesting against it. Some took to social media to express their dissent, while others have boycotted important national events in protest.
On December 11, when the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha with a majority vote, actor Parvathy took to Twitter to express her dissent. “Shiver through the spine. Oh, we cannot be letting this happen! Oh no,” she wrote. She continued to voice her protest against CAA. She even condemned the police excess at Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), where the students were indiscriminately attacked. She termed the incident “terrorism”.
Then, on December 15, Zakariya Mohammed, the director of Sudani from Nigeria, announced that he will boycott the National Awards event. His movie won the Best Malayalam Film award in the 2019 National Film Awards. Soon, actor Savithri Sreedharan, who won a special mention for her role in the same movie, also decided to boycott the event.
As the clashes between the police and students at JMI and AMU broke out on Sunday night and students across the country took out peaceful protests in solidarity with the movement against CAA, more Mollywood celebrities spoke up.
On Tuesday, actor Mammootty said that anything against the spirit of togetherness should be discouraged. "We can forge ahead as a nation only when we rise above caste, creed, religion and other considerations," he wrote on his Facebook page.
Actor Rima Kallingal, known for taking bold stances on social issues, expressed solidarity with the students of the nation. “With the youngsters who are asking for peace, for justice, for fairness in the land they live. When the mighty, the powerful and the rich look away, the real owners of this land, these kids will look into your eyes and ask the relevant questions,” she posted on Facebook.
When the CAB was passed as a law, she wrote, “Do not divide a peaceful nation on the grounds of religion. Let’s stand together… Love and peace always.”
Sharing a sketch of Ayesha Renna, a student at JMI University, pointing her finger during a facing off with the Delhi police, actor Kunchacko Boban wrote, “This pointed finger is enough to unite all the children of India… Stay true to the Constitution… Stay as the true Daughter and Son of India! Jai Hind!”
Director Aashiq Abu shared a poster that read “Fascism is achieved not when the government oppresses half of its people, but when the other half chooses to be silent” and urged the public to “Resist”. He also shared a statement by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, which said that the government’s commitment is towards the Constitution.
The Sukumaran brothers — Prithviraj and Indrajith — also took to social media to extend solidarity with those protesting. “Revolution is homegrown. Always. #Rise,” wrote Prithviraj, while Indrajith posted, “Uprising - Homemade! Long live secularism.”
Tovino Thomas, who starred in movies like Maayanadhi and Virus, said that more the protests are quelled, “the higher the uprising will be”. “The hashtags, campaigns and anxiety will all take a final form - into an absolute outbreak! That’s what history narrates,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
Actor Jayasurya, too, voiced his protest against the Act. “We stand for equality," he posted on Facebook.
“Secularism, democracy and equality are our birthrights and we must resist any attempt to destroy it. However, do remember that our tradition is that of Ahimsa and non-violence. Protest peacefully and stand up for a better India,” actor Dulquer Salmaan said wrote on Tuesday.
Filmmaker Geethu Mohandas, actors Soubin Shahir, Asif Ali, Sunny Wayne and Rajisha Vijayan, too, took to social media to speak against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Superstar Mohanlal, however, has not spoken on the issue yet.