A day after being released on conditional bail, Malayalam actor Dileep was re-elected as the President of Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala (FEUOK) on Wednesday. FEUOK is the alternative union of theatre owners that Dileep, an accused in the controversial actor abduction and assault case, floated in January.
Dileep was removed from the post on July 11, just a day after he was arrested by the police and booked under various sections including gangrape. He was removed from the post on the same day from Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA).
Announcing his reinstatement in a press meet held in Kochi, Antony Perumbavoor, who replaced Dileep as the President in July said that he had only "stepped into Dileep's shoes in his absence."
"Now that Dileep is back, he was re-elected to head the association. In July, there was a scenario where Dileep was forced to stay away and that is why I became the President," said Antony, who was previously the Vice-President of the association.
Actor Dileep along with Antony Perumbavoor
Antony will continue to be part of the association in his earlier position of Vice-President. The decision to "re-elect" Dileep to the head the association was taken at an Executive Committee meeting held in Kochi on Wednesday.
According to reports, the committee members were of the opinion that the accused actor was innocent and extended their support to him. Asked what the association will do if Dileep is indeed guilty, Antony said, "We'll see about that if it happens."
The executive committee members will reportedly meet Dileep at his residence later in the day to apprise him of the association's decision.
FEUOK was formed in January this year, when 64 theatre owners including Dileep (who owns D-Cinemas in Chalakkudy) broke away from the association headed by producer Liberty Basheer. This after a public spat between the Kerala Film Exhibitors Federation (KFEF) and Kerala Film Producers’ Association (KFPA) over revenue-sharing.
At the time, Dileep had emerged as the "saving grace" of Malayalam cinema resolving the crisis the industry had faced for more than a month with several theatres being shut down.
“The new organisation is a union formed for the well-being of Malayalam cinema which should not face a similar crisis in future. This organisation will decide the future of Malayalam cinema. It has the support of AMMA and FEFKA too," Dileep had then told reporters.
TNM reached out to Edavela Babu, a member of the executive committee of AMMA. Asked what stand AMMA will take regarding Dileep's bail, Babu said that the association has not decided on the course of action.
"We haven't even had a meeting to discuss it. For now, we have not arrived at any decision," Babu said, refusing to comment further.
Flurry of support for Dileep
Hours after Dileep was released on conditional bail, the actor received a rousing reception from fans. While member of Dileep fans association celebrated outside the Aluva sub-jail, several persons from the industry- including actors, producers and directors- met Dileep at his residence.
Actors including Siddique, Prayaga Martin, KPAC Lalitha, Ponnamma Babu, Dileep's close confidante and director Nadhirshah, producer of Dileep's latest film Ramaleela Tomichan Mulakuppadam, and director Arun Gopy met Dileep.
Although Dileep came out of his house to greet people gathered outside the gate, he did not speak to the media.
Soon after Dileep was released, social activist P Geetha had remarked about Dileep's clout, stating, "He is someone who is powerful enough to garner support and generate debates in favour of him, while he was in judicial custody. This is something to worry about."