By Fahir Maithutty
Let's start with Manju Warrierâ€™s comeback Malayalam film 'How Old Are You' released in 2014. Manju had parted ways with Dileep and returned to the Malayalam filmdom after a gap of 15 years, too big a break for any artist to overcome.
For Manju, it would have been even tougher because she had left her career on a high, as a reigning heartthrob, when she married Dileep in 1999.
But after watching her onscreen, I was stunned to see Manju in her element. Comedy was always her forte. When she said "Paraaganam enthaannu valla nishchayavum undo" to Sethulakshmi, it instantly took me to her Unnimaya and Aami days. Her voice was still an asset.
She also emoted brilliantly in the scenes where she had to leave her daughter at the airport, when she shared her woes with her friend later, or when she saw the posts and pictures making fun of her on Facebook.
But what surprised me was that none of this caught the attention of most viewers, her ardent fans included. They were busy ridiculing her for her Kalyan Jewellery ads! They were the ones to zoom in on the seemingly similar pattern of the movies she did after her break, where she had a cruel husband who she had divorced, or with whom she was in constant conflict.
Her dance in Merriboy ice-cream ad was mocked at too. She was even booed in theatres when she made a fleeting appearance in Prithviraj-starrer 'Pavada'. There were reports she lost many opportunities because many film-makers did not want to risk working with her.
Were the masses condemning her for walking out of her marriage and not taking care of her daughter? She was paying the price for her divorce. What if she had chosen to make a comeback after Dileep and Kavya's inevitable marriage?
The likes for Manju's Facebook page are mutating at a rapid pace since Friday morning, an indication of the Malayalisâ€™ chameleonic stance.
If we look at other states, we can see artists marry, divorce, re-marry, stay with or without their children all the time, with absolutely no bearing on their movies or fan base. Kerala however has a set of rules on how artists should go about their personal lives off-screen.
This also holds true for how they speak in interviews, or what they write in their personal blogs. We did not really allow Prithviraj to find success in his acting career, until he stopped being outspoken in his interviews. Superstar Mohanlal is currently being trolled for praising Modi in his blog.
Over the past several years, Dileep and Kavya Madhavan have repeatedly denied all rumors of a relationship. On Friday, Dileep justified his marriage to Kavya with: "When I felt the urge to remarry, I thought about Kavya whom gossips have always linked with me .So I thought it would be appropriate to marry only her." Ouch!
I wish he had said loudly that they both are in love, which is why they are marrying.
Grossly unjust to Manju, should we continue in the same vein with Dileep and Kavya too? Why can we not just review their future movies and performances on merit alone, and not based on their decision to start a life together? For once, we should stop linking what an artist does for his/her living with their personal lives.
Note: Views expressed are personal opinions of the author.