In an interview, VA Shrikumar also said there was a group of people who did not want Manju Warrier to succeed.

Paid gang behind criticism Odiyan director VA Shrikumar alleges conspiracy
news Flix Saturday, December 15, 2018 - 12:25

Ever since the release of Mohanlal and Manju Warrier’s new movie, Odiyan, on Friday, the movie’s director, VA Shrikumar, has been subject to heavy and relentless trolling from Malayali movie-goers. One of his posts, a photo listing all the cinema theatres that would be screening the movie, actually saw 18,000 comments, mostly expressing disappointment over the film, or cracking jokes about its plot, or perceived lack thereof. 

Some of the criticism Shrikumar faced came from angry Mohanlal fans, who were posting comments that expressed their grief that Mohanlal had worked on a movie with him. Other watchers posted comments that revealed their irritation at how extensively the movie had been hyped and publicised in the run-up to its release, only to reveal a film that didn't meet everyone’s expectations. Many social media commentators posted jokes that played on the name of Shrikumar’s media company, Push Media, by punning on the Malayalam words “thallu” or “thallu viddal” (praise oneself), while others informed him that his talents would be put to better use by using Push Media to help move cars that had run out of petrol on the highway instead of making bad movies. Many commentators also cracked jokes that riffed on the word kanji (rice gruel), based on one of the dialogues in the movie. There have been a steady trickle of abusive comments too.

Shrikumar Menon, however, has hinted in an interview to Flowers TV that he feels the comments and trolling he and the movie experienced over Odiyan is part of a deliberate attempt to sabotage him and the movie, and did not come from genuine movie-watchers with no ulterior motive. 

In the interview, Shrikumar Menon tells the anchor that he watched the movie in a theatre and he observed that the audience were very involved in the plot. The anchor then says that IMDB and Times of India gave good ratings for the movie, and asks the director why he was being targeted despite the good reviews. (The anchor does not mention any of the other non-flattering reviews though.)

Replying to this, Shrikumar Menon says, "These are efforts to destroy a dream and an industry. We are trying to open up an industry. Producers are coming up to make big budget movies in Malayalam, but there is a sadistic tendency to destroy their enthusiasm. It is disappointing to see this group of people," he says. Later, he told Reporter Live that it was not mainly Mohanlal fans who were speaking against the film, but someone had hired cyber goons to target him. "I welcome genuine criticism, but many are targeting us."

According to Shrikumar, he had expected these attacks against his movie. "There is a paid gang that does this. But Odiyan will prove that such paid targeting will not work and this movie will emerge a success."

The anchor then asks if Shrikumar believes that those who dragged him into the actress attack case were also behind the cyber attack on Odiyan.  (Dileep in his police statement had said that VA Shrikumar, who was close to Manju Warrier, had conspired to trap him in the assault case). "Those people are still active and they could have been behind it," Shrikumar says.

The conversation then veers to whether VA Shrikumar was being targeted for bringing Manju Warrier back into the film industry, after working with her for the Kalyan Jewellers brand. "As she was my client and friend, I have always thought how to position Manju as a brand and to build her brand. A talent like Manju's, happens to an industry once in many decades. We only positioned her as a brand," he says.

Shrikumar continues, "I knew clearly that there are a group of people who did not want Manju Warrier to ever become successful and they would target me if I helped her. I am also ready to face the ripple effect of that decision or be crucified repeatedly for it.”

PS: TNM’s reviewer Sowmya Rajendran, also reviewed Odiyan on Friday. You can read her review here

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