As #BoycottRamaleela campaign gains momentum, director Arun Gopy talks to TNM about the release of his debut film.

Cinema a collective effort boycott calls wont affect film Director of Dileeps Ramaleela to TNMAll photos from Facebook
news Interview Sunday, September 17, 2017 - 15:27

As the Malayalam film Ramaleela starring actor Dileep is inching closer to its release date, there is a storm brewing against the actor and the film. 

With the film's lead actor Dileep in judicial custody for over two months after being named an accused in the abduction and alleged sexual assault of a woman actor, Ramaleela release was clouded in uncertainty until now. 

Eleventh accused in the case, Dileep was arrested in July, just days before the film was set to hit the theatres. And after a delay of over two months, the makers of the film have decided to release the film next week. 

On social media, however, the cry to boycott the film is getting louder than ever before. 

Speaking to TNM, director of the film Arun Gopy said that he does not expect the negative campaign against his debut film to transpire into a real threat. 

"I know about the negative campaign against the film. It is nothing but a bunch of individuals excising their right to free speech and expression. We live in an educated society where people can have their own opinions; nobody can counter or attack that. But here, nobody is talking about the positive campaign going on, nobody is listening to the voices who are saying that they will support the film and watch it. When 10 people are asking for boycott, another 1000 people are saying they will watch it. But nobody is giving importance to that," Arun said. 

Asked whether the ‘positive wave’ was something the film’s team themselves started, Arun disagreed. 

"Neither the negative campaign or the positive one has been initiated by us. People have the ability to think and form opinions about issues and they are doing that," he says. 

Has the arrest of actor Dileep and the subsequent public sentiment going against the actor affected the team? "Definitely," says the director. 

"The purpose of making a film is to release it in theatres and make people to watch it. If people decide that they will boycott a film, then the very purpose of making a film is defeated. But I don't think the negative campaign will have an effect at all. Let's see it as opinions of individual people. I don't think one person's opinion is going to influence thousand others, if that were true, there would be no law and order problems. Our government is constantly asking people to live peacefully, but who is listening? It’s the same with these negative campaigns. People who are speaking against the film have their own politics," Arun says. 

In the second teaser of the film released after Dileep's arrest, the 32-seconds video has a dialogue in Dileep's voice: "As if there is a deliberate decision that I must be the accused."

This line has been used in several videos supporting the actor. Asked about the teaser, director Arun maintains that the dialogue had always been a part of the film and was not added a later time. 

"Social media campaigns and hashtags are time-bound. When something happens, a hashtag is generated, people talk about it. Many people use hashtags just for the heck of it, they won't even have clear opinion on the matter. And then after sometime, it dies down. What happened to #JusticeForJisha and other hashtags now? Do people who posted using that know the status of the case now?" he asks. 

The #BoycottRamaleela campaign has even urged the film's producer Tomichan Mulakuppadam to approach the Kerala High Court seeking protection for the release of the film. On Sunday, he filed a complaint with the Ernakulam Range IG against GP Ramachandran, against the boycott calls.

But director Arun believes that the film will do well. 

"A film is a collective effort of so many people. It is not a director's film or an actor's film, but is everybody's. I am born and brought up in this place; I have lived here all my life. I am not looking at the release with worry or fear, but with hope that people will make it a success," he says. 

Though Hollywood has lately seen campaigns asking people to boycott movies of those accused in sexual crimes, Arun says it isn’t right to punish a movie based on any artist’s personal behavior.

"Do you buy an artist's paintings after judging his personal life? After looking at what right and wrong he has done in his personal life? As I said, a cinema is a group effort and does not belong to one person."  

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