A few Youth Congress workers took out a march to the sets of Prithviraj starrer ‘Kaduva’ and Sreenivsan’s film ‘Keedam’.

A number of Congress workers mostly in white stand together, one has raised a wreath with a photo of Joju George in it, and a few others in the back have raised party flagsYouth Congress workers with wreath in Joju George's name / Courtesy - Samakalika Malayalam
news Controversy Wednesday, November 10, 2021 - 17:30

For the past few days, Youth Congress workers in Kerala have been marching into film locations, raising slogans and protesting against shooting that allegedly create roadblocks. These marches began days after actor Joju George had a heated exchange with Congress workers in Kochi, when the Congress held a protest on November 1 against the rising fuel price, blocking traffic for nearly two hours. The actor, who was in his car at the time, questioned the party workers for holding up the traffic. The Congress workers then vandalised the actor’s car, following which the police registered a case against them. 

Nearly a week later, in what seems like a retaliatory move, on Sunday, November 7, the Youth Congress workers took a protest march to a film set in Mundakkayam of Kottayam district, where Prithviraj starrer Kaduva, directed by Shaji Kailas, was being shot. Youth Congress workers from Ponkonnum walked to the sets, shouting slogans against Joju George, although he is not part of the film cast. The workers said that they will not allow film shoots that are blocking vehicles on the road.

Reportedly, Kanjirappally workers of Congress tried to stop the protests and soon, a brawl between the two groups ensued. The protesters dispersed after police intervention and an assurance that there will not be further roadblocks.

On Monday, November 8, the Youth Congress took out another march towards the sets of the film Keedam, with Sreenivasan in the lead and Joju George playing a role in it. The film shooting, directed by Rahul Riji Nair, in Puthankurishu of Ernakulam district was disrupted. 

Meanwhile, some Youth Congress workers also took a wreath with Joju's name on it to the Shenoys Theatre in Ernakulam.

Film bodies, including the Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA), have appealed to Congress leaders to intervene in the matter and allow shootings to proceed without any incident. In his letter to Congress leader and Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan, FEFKA general secretary B Unnikrishnan pointed out that while one may have political disagreements with another and criticise them for it, it is not right to label them as "drunkard," or "drug addict" or "harasser of women."

"Our protest is against such insults on Joju, our co-worker, showing him in a bad light in society," Unnikrishnan's letter said.

Urging opposition leader Satheesan to intervene in the issue, Unnikrishnan raised the recent disruptions on the set of Kaduva and the declaration by Congress leaders that they will continue such protests in film locations. Unnikrishnan wrote to Satheesan asking the party not to let the difference of opinion with one artist grow into enmity against the whole art form and the film industry.

Amid the row, Kerala Congress Pradesh Committee (KPCC) K Sudhakaran asked the Youth Congress workers to withdraw from such protest marches to film sets.

Meanwhile, Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) and actor KB Ganesh Kumar questioned the silence of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) on the attack on Joju George.

On Wednesday, November 10, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reacted strongly to the attacks, saying that such invasion of freedom of expression will not be allowed. He was answering a submission by M Mukesh, actor and MLA, in the Assembly.

Actor Joju’s car was vandalised on November 1 when the Congress party’s protest against the fuel price hike caused a huge traffic jam for about two hours on the Edappally-Vytilla highway in Ernakulam. The exchange between the actor and the Congress workers had ended badly with some workers crashing the windows of Joju's car while accusing him of being drunk and misbehaving with women. Joju was taken for a blood test by the police, which turned negative. Later, the police registered a case against some Congress workers, including former Kochi Mayor Tony Chammany, for vandalising the actor’s vehicle.