Dileep is back in AMMA and it'd seem that the move was top priority for the organisation.

Dileeps return to AMMA shows how little the film body cares about sexual violence
news Opinion Monday, June 25, 2018 - 15:25

Dileep is back in AMMA.

Edavela Babu finally picked up his phone on Monday morning and said, yes, that is so. Dileep, one of the accused in the actor assault case that shook Kerala more than a year ago. Dileep, the superstar, who then had to be ousted from AMMA, albeit reluctantly.

And yet, he is back now, nearly a year after his ouster. When nothing about the case has changed, legally. He is still among the accused. His name is yet to be cleared. So the reasons that forced his exit from AMMA, are still true.

Why then, did AMMA take this decision so hurriedly in its first general body meeting with the new leaders? There was a question, Babu said. The question came from Urmila Unni – surprisingly, a woman actor, out of all the scores that had gathered for the meeting on Sunday. But it was a question on everyone’s mind, she said, only she had the ‘courage to ask it’. “There was no letter like the media reports suggest. I just asked my question and left. It’s only later from the news that I came to know a decision has been taken,” she said on a phone call.

But even without her question, they’d have still discussed the matter, Babu, the new general secretary said. Obviously this is top priority for them. A new leadership with Mohanlal taking over as president and all they could think about is Dileep. There’s something about this man that his colleagues just can’t ignore. His power, his influence among others has been obvious in the past year even when he was put in jail for nearly three months. Many from the industry decried the arrest, many went to see him there, expressing solidarity. As if it was he that was attacked and the woman who had been raped, the perpetrator.

The support for her was loud at first, thanks to a few women who went out and formed the Women in Cinema Collective. But as the days passed, the tables turned. Slowly, the WCC was ridiculed and frowned upon. Dileep supporters used their favourite ‘cuss word’ feminichi on every one of them. When they began an Avalkoppam (With her) campaign, Dileep’s diehard fans launched Avanoppam (With him). They seemed to think that campaigning for a rape survivor was somehow so atrocious and they had to side with the accused.

There were also attempts to tarnish the name of the survivor who had borne all of this quietly, but courageously, standing her ground through all the storm. She had not taken to the mudslinging that Dileep supporters felt necessary to do. Some even went to the extent of calling her a liar. But apart from a few posts clearing her stance, and reacting only when necessary, she stayed away from everything.

Her supporters didn’t. They kept fighting. Even now the WCC made a post asking AMMA what has changed now that they felt compelled to invite Dileep back. Isn’t the rape survivor too a part of AMMA, they asked.

Admirable what they do when their rising voices had been repeatedly attacked. Their movies too were attacked. It is no surprise then that they remained conspicuously absent in the AMMA meeting on Sunday. But even they wouldn’t have thought AMMA would go to the extent of bringing back to its fold, the man who had allegedly wanted to rip apart the life of their friend. But that’s the kind of power Dileep seems to have among his almost-slave like friends. One of them had reportedly said at the meeting that it is a good thing Dileep didn’t go to the court against his ouster. The others including the big stars that rule the industry maintained silence when the question was asked. Should Dileep be back? The same silence they threw at the audience who weighed their every word so much when a year ago the case was first discussed.

The fans had then turned against actors like Prithviraj. It was professional jealousy, they said of the men who had decided to stand with their dear co-actor who was so cruelly attacked. Prithvi had made a bold statement that he would not glorify anti-women lines in his films anymore. It was clear few of his colleagues liked it, even as he was lauded by women.

When the months passed, Dileep’s movie Ramaleela that had to be shelved at first, came out with a lot of noise. Fans cheered and lauded the movie even before it was out. A second movie – Kammara Sambhavam – too came out when Dileep boldly showed up at a promo event and was praised by co-actors in the movie. It was like the actor assault had never happened. Or worse, it was like she was forgotten.

The message is clear. Whoever stands with Dileep will have a happy time in AMMA – as the live videos they put out in their official Facebook page show: laughter and mirth and happy selfies. The others just don’t matter.


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