Mammootty may agree or disagree with Parvathy's views but how can he stay silent at the rape and death threats made in his name?

When will you condemn the abuse in your name Open letter to Mammootty Digital Native
Flix Blog Saturday, December 23, 2017 - 13:23

By Avinash Chandrakanth

Dear Mammootty,

You started your film career way before I was born. To see you still so active in cinema, experimenting with different characters, is a matter of pride as a Malayali cinema lover -  because when I discuss cinema with my non-Malayali friends, they are always so impressed and jealous with what we have going on in Malayalam cinema.

I’ve heard that you are a great human being. I’ve heard accounts that portray you as a compassionate and considerate soul. I watched an interview of yours where someone from the audience asks you what, in your opinion, are the qualities of a good “housewife”. You responded that you don’t believe that any woman has to be a “housewife”, that you believe that every woman should pursue their dreams. I have no doubt that the adoration you earn from your fans is well deserved.

Recently, a young woman actor (Parvathy) talked about how women are represented in cinema during a panel discussion at the International Film Festival of Kerala. She expressed her disappointment at the misogynistic dialogues in your movie Kasaba and how this was glorified. She said that there was a thin line between portraying misogyny as a regressive thing that exists in society and glorifying it as cool and manly. Ever since she expressed her opinion, Parvathy has been attacked relentlessly by your fans with abuses, rape threats, death threats and incessant trolling.

Let’s set aside the question of whether you agree with her or not. Let’s set aside the fact that she was only expressing her disappointment that such scenes in movies go to show how cool the character is, instead of being shown as something negative.

What I am about to say is not dependent on you agreeing or disagreeing with her. Your friend and co-actor Siddique, another veteran actor, said in a statement that Parvathy is responsible for the way your fans are abusing her. He suggested that she has to face them as a consequence for expressing her opinion. He seems to be backing the cyberbullies, abusers and harassers. Isn’t this what victim blaming is?

He also gave us a glimpse of your take on the whole situation. Apparently, you said, “They are kids. Let them say what they want to say!” when you heard of Parvathy’s comments.

This can be interpreted to mean that you are taking her words as an insult and personal attack but you are letting it go. I might respond the same way perhaps if some young person insults me when I am 66. But where you would be wrong (and your fans), is if you think that what Parvathy said was an insult directed at you.

I am not an actor, not a public figure nor do I command love and respect from a large population as you do. But even if I had a few people who call themselves my fans and defend me when someone criticises me, I would never ever want them to verbally abuse, issue death threats, rape threats in the name of defending me. I would not want them to hate and commit crimes against women, because at the moment, India is plagued with enough of such instances.

It takes only one of your crazy fans to commit a crime in your name, and believe me, it will be on you. You have the moral obligation to ask people to not abuse others in your name, irrespective of why they are doing it. It is wrong under any circumstance. Even if you were personally attacked, asking your fans not to spread hatred only makes you the bigger person.

This is not reel anymore. This is real life. Your voice and silence mean a great deal. I appeal to the sensible and wise person in you. Do the right thing.

(Views expressed are author's own)