By Sanu George
The tussle between Kerala superstar Mammootty and actor-turned-legislator KB Ganesh Kumar over control of the powerful Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) is now out in the open, with the superstar seemingly not keen on allowing the latter to the helm.
While Mammootty, who is himself not keen on the post but wants to play the kingmaker, Ganesh Kumar is adamant about taking charge.
Fifty-two-year-old Kumar, a former minister and four-time legislator, is the son of political veteran R Balakrishna Pillai, whose Kerala Congress (B), after parting ways with the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), is awaiting the green signal to join the ruling CPI (M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF).
Kumar has had two stints as minister -- both with the UDF: First in 2001, but he stepped down in favour of his father after a while, and then in 2011, when he had to quit as domestic issues surfaced, which eventually led to a divorce.
Ever since the arrest and the incarceration for 85 days of upcoming superstar Dileep last year in a case relating to the kidnapping of a woman actor, AMMA, which is currently led by popular comedian and Left-supported Lok Sabha member Innocent, has gone into a shell. Dileep was suspended from AMMA soon after his arrest, a move that was criticised by Ganesh Kumar.
AMMA has not been able to convene a meeting of its office-bearers. And, a new generation of stars led by Prithviraj have put their foot down after Innocent, propped up by Mammootty and his fellow superstar Mohanlal and other seniors, wished to revoke Dileep's suspension.
Having headed the AMMA for over a decade now, Innocent has of late been feeling that he was losing clout in the organisation. So, he has announced that he will not be seeking a fresh term as the chief.
Following this, Ganesh Kumar, who is an executive member, decided to throw his hat in the ring. It was then that Mammootty decided to play his cards to ensure that the actor-turned-politician's desire did not see fruition.
A senior actor told IANS on condition of anonymity that the two have never shared good relations since Kumar became a minister in the AK Antony cabinet in 2001.
"It is the fat big egos that reign supreme in our industry, and with Mammootty -- the numero uno of our industry and a CPI (M) favourite -- the tiff intensified after Ganesh Kumar felt that it was the superstar who stands between him and a Cabinet post (if and when Ganesh Kumar joins the ruling CPI (M)," said the actor.
With the old guard in AMMA, with the lone exception of Mammootty, supporting Ganesh Kumar, and the new guard not keen on him, one will have to wait till July when AMMA selects new president at its annual general meeting to find out who will emerge victorious in this tussle.
(Sanu George can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)