There is palpable public anger against actor Dileep in Kerala. The 'Janapriya Nayagan' has come down crashing from his elevated position as a star following his arrest on Monday, in connection with the abduction and sexual assault of a prominent woman actor in February.
Boos and hoots have greeted the actor wherever he's been taken since his arrest on June 10 - the Aluva police club where the actor was questioned, the Angamaly first class magistrate court, outside Aluva sub jail and wherever else he was taken for evidence collection in Ernakulam, Thrissur and Thodupuzha. The waiting crowd has thrown taunts at him, keen to make him understand that he's lost their support.
People were heard shouting â€śWelcome to Central Jailâ€ť and â€śWhy did you do this?â€ť. While some of them termed him a criminal, some others could not believe that the popular actor could go to this extent to extract his vendetta, as the police have claimed.
Saleem, who runs a shop near Angamaly magistrate court lives in Aluva, Dileep's native place.
â€śMy relatives are in Desom, Aluva, that was where Dileep had his house earlier. We knew the family, but we didn't know that he will do such a cruel deed. Dileep had a fan base in Aluva and Thrissur...many of them still believe that he is innocent. We were proud of his growth. This is a huge fall,â€ť said Saleem, who was present in the court to listen to Dileepâ€™s bail plea.
â€śHe has helped many in our place, but people have said even earlier that he wasn't quite as good as he projected himself. It was mainly after his divorce that people turned against him," he added.
Dileep's split from Manju Warrier, another prominent actor from the industry, was hugely discussed and analysed by the public at the time. The cause of the divorce, many believed, was Dileep's growing closeness with Kavya Madhavan, another actor, whom he eventually married.
Sharath, another native of Aluva, was so outraged about the news of Dileep's alleged involvement in the actor abduction case, that his love for the actor has turned into instant hate.
â€śWe loved his movies once and I was also part of his fans' association. But what people say is right.. in real life all these reel life heroes are real villains. He should be punished, but since he has money he can easily get out,â€ť he opined.
It's not just Dileep who finds himself unpopular, it is also his legal counsel Ramkumar who is getting a taste of the public's ire. The latter, too, received his share of hoots.
When asked if they didn't think Dileep had a right to defend himself in court, people said, "Even Govindachamy (Soumya rape and murder case convict) got a good defense lawyer and he was rescued.â€ť
Around 50 police personnel have been deployed at each of the properties in which Dileep and family have a stake. This includes his house in Aluva on the banks of the Periyar river, the two Dhe Puttu restaurants in Kochi and Kozhikode, and Laksyah boutique owned by the actor's wife Kavya Madhavan.
Though Dileep's arrest happened only on Monday, months after the crime had taken place, the needle of suspicion has been pointing at him right from the beginning. Dileep's vociferous denials on TV channels were in vain as far as the public was concerned, even though the film fraternity threw their weight behind him.
Suresh, who is also from Aluva, says that many of the local people were sure that Dileep was involved in the case ever since news broke out about the attack.
â€śWhen the news broke out, we were sure that Dileep was involved in it, as we all knew he was not so good. We were aware about his real estate mafia. He also lied a lot about his second marriage. People who know him say that he is a person who bears a grudge for years,â€ť he alleged.
For some, however, Aluva has never really embraced Dileep as a beloved son.
Asha, who lives near Dileep's house, says that the place has never been recognised as his native land.
â€śThere was no huge fan base for him here. There was no special affection towards him from people in the region. There are some places that are synonymous with the actors who belong to them. But this is not so in the case of Dileep. Aluva has never been synonymous with him or vice versa, although he spent his childhood and college days here,â€ť she said.
Mujeeb, a local politician in Aluva, says that prominent people in the region were well aware about Dileepâ€™s alleged real estate and benami dealings.
â€śWe know he had relations with many goondas as he had a lot of real estate and benami dealings. He was a fraud in his personal life as well as in professional life. Many politicians here have supported him in many illegal dealings. We are not surprised that he has committed this crime,â€ť Majeed claimed.
There is, nevertheless, a slim minority among the huge crowds thronging the actor, which believes that Dileep should not be harassed until the time his guilt is established.
â€śHe might have committed this crime or he might be innocent. What if he is innocent? We cannot be so judgmental,â€ť said Satheesh KP, an Aluva resident.