A Kerala-based woman film critic and reviewer took to her personal Facebook page to say that she got a headache after watching actor Allu Arjun’s latest film but couldn’t leave the theatre soon as it was raining heavily.
It was supposed to be a funny post but ‘fans’ of the prominent Telugu star couldn’t stomach the fact that someone did not like their ‘Allu ettan’s’ film and decided that they should ‘teach her a lesson’.
Only, Aparna refused to take the abuse lying down and filed a complaint with the cyber police on Thursday against what she described as an organised social media attack.
26-year-old Aparna Prasanthi, a freelance film reviewer for the past four years, watched the Malayalam dubbed version of Allu Arjun’s film Naa Peru Surya, Naa Illu India on May 9, following which she took to Facebook to write a one-liner about what she felt.
However, she was taken aback when she found that there were at least 50 comments on her post in a matter of 30 minutes, all abusing her for what she had said.
Speaking to TNM, Aparna said that not only did Allu Arjun fans defend the film and the actor and abuse her for her post, they also unabashedly and openly issued rape and death threats.
“I got a lot of messages from them saying they will meet me at my funeral, that they will rape me and teach me a lesson. They abused my parents, called me and my mother names, and attacked our character,” Aparna said.
While many of these comments came from ‘normal’ profiles, most of the comments came from accounts that had Allu Arjun’s name and his photo as the profile picture.
For Aparna, who has been reviewing Malayalam and other language films in Malayalam media including Azhimukham, Manorama and Mathrubhumi over the years, this kind of an organised abuse is new.
“Earlier also when I gave bad reviews for some films, I used to get comments that sometimes body shames me or takes the tone of slut shaming. But it used to die down in a matter of one or two hours and the number of comments were very few. In fact, it has happened with films of Mammootty and Mohanlal, like Kasaba and Munthiri Vallikal Thalirkkumbol. But this time, it is clear that it’s an organised attack. My post on Facebook was not even a review to begin with! Comments continue to come on my post even now,” Aparna said.
She felt that there is a considerable difference when it comes to fans attacking women and men reviewers on social media. While her male counterparts do get abusive messages for giving bad reviews, she pointed out that the abuses are most often directed at the women in the reviewer’s family.
“To a male reviewer, these fans will abuse the women in his family, say his mother or wife. With me, since I am a woman, they find it convenient to direct the abuse at me,” she pointed out.
With Allu Arjun playing the role of an army man in the film, many of the actor’s fans even went to the extent of calling Aparna “anti-national” and a “Pakistani spy”.
The fans are now demanding that Aparna take down her post and issue an apology, well, for speaking her mind!
“Many have also messaged my friends who commented on the post in support of me. They are messaging my friends, asking them to tell me that I better apologise. I put up a post about filing a police complaint, along with screenshots of the abuses I received. The fans have mass reported it and now Facebook has taken it down and I cannot use my account for 24 hours!” she added.
Having decided not to bow down to the vitriolic abuse, Aparna filed a complaint with the Hi-tech cell on Thursday. The complaint has now been forwarded to the Malappuram SP.