The news that Mohanlal will be the chief guest at the Kerala State Awards function has split the Malayalam film industry further. But, the news itself has now become a question mark, giving rise to further doubts, debates and dilemmas.
On Monday, a protest statement was signed by more than a hundred artistes and activists. The statement said that it was not acceptable for anyone other than the Chief Minister to give away the awards. At that point, it had been suggested in the news that Mohanlal was coming as the chief guest for the event. The statement, which did not mention any names, however, pointed out that a fellow actor whose films too had been in the fray for awards should not be giving them away. The signatories said that the Chief Minister and the Culture Minister should honour the award winners.
The confusions and cross-firing began when Prakash Raj, the first signatory in the statement, refuted signing any such memorandum that mentioned Mohanlal. He put out a video on Twitter to say this, while also acknowledging that he had disagreements with the recent stances taken by AMMA, after Mohanlal took charge as president.
Clarifying... against s a wrong news doing the rounds pic.twitter.com/PIcyua2GA2â€” Prakash Raj (@prakashraaj) July 24, 2018
But now, no one is sure how the speculation that Mohanlal was coming as the chief guest began. The Culture Minister AK Balan has said that he has not invited Mohanlal to be the chief guest. Mohanlal has also said that he has not received such an invitation from the government, and that he cannot therefore comment on it.
Meanwhile, support gathered for Mohanlal with quite a few associations including the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce, FEFKA, AMMA, the producersâ€™ association, the distributorsâ€™ association and the exhibitorsâ€™ federation writing to the Chief Minister against the protest statement. It is a conspiracy to alienate and eliminate the actor who has been in the industry for over four decades, they have claimed.
It all began when director Dr Biju said in a Facebook post that he would not take part in the State Awards function if an actor was made the chief guest. He had also mentioned that the recent stances adopted by AMMA were disappointing. Soon, a statement was prepared and did the rounds among like-minded people. The statement, however, did not mention Mohanlal explicitly.
Biju now says that the statement was not against Mohanlal, but applied to any actor from the industry coming as chief guest.
â€śThe statement which we had released regarding the State Awards distribution did not mention any names. Our stand is that other than the CM and the awardees, any other chief guest is inappropriate. It also reduces their achievement. We have not mentioned any actor in the statement. Our stand is the same whoever be the chief guest,â€ť Biju has said.
Director Rajeev Ravi reiterates Bijuâ€™s statement.
â€śThe direction that the controversy around the Kerala State Film Awards has taken now is wrong. It is sad that the issue has been sidestepped and it is being portrayed as if this is a personal attack against Mohanlal. What should we reply to people asking why their Lalettan is being targeted? The issue is not that, but people are trying to create controversies by keeping Mohanlal at the forefront,â€ť he has told Manorama.
He adds: â€śWe donâ€™t have the necessity to attack Mohanlal. None of us is dependent on him in any way and so we donâ€™t have to start a fight against him. When the issue is being diverted, the real topic is not reaching the public. Kerala never had the culture of blind fan following, but it has now reached here. Now, those people are not understanding the issue.â€ť