The crucial meeting with AMMA, that three members of the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) had called for, is to take place in Kochi on Tuesday. The meeting will commence at 4 pm.Striking a petulant tone, AMMA had made it clear that it wasn't going to meet all the WCC members and that it would only entertain Revathy, Parvathy and Padmapriya, who had written to the Malayalam cine artistes' body soon after it reinstated rape accused actor Dileep.
AMMA will also meet with actors Shammi Thilakan and Joy Mathew who have raised complaints. Actor Parvathy, one of the most vocal members of the WCC, had cut short her trip to the US in order to be present at the meeting. Speaking to TNM earlier, actor and director Revathy had said that she intends to have a "serious conversation" with the executive members of AMMA.
Tuesday's meeting will not be easy for the WCC members. AMMA's tactic has been to use its women members to slyly deflate the arguments made against the film body. From having women perform the main roles in the derisive AMMA Mazhavil show to claiming that it was actor Urmila Unni's idea to bring up Dileep's reinstatement, AMMA has attempted to battle the WCC with other women as cannon fodder. The WCC, for its part, has refused to back down and has upped the ante in recent times.
The call for the meeting came after AMMA, under the newly elected president Mohanlal, took back Dileep into its fold. While Mohanlal later claimed that taking the accused actor back was on the agenda of the June 24 Annual General Body meeting, the WCC refuted his statement. As documents accessed by TNM confirmed, the Dileep issue had not been listed anywhere in the agenda. Further, AMMA has been consistently mocking the WCC which has stood in support of the survivor. As actor Rima Kallingal, who has resigned from AMMA, pointed out, the AMMA Mazhavil skit denigrated the WCC, with the two superstars Mammootty and Mohanlal gladly participating in it.
At Tuesday's meeting, the three WCC members will put forth their views on the events thus far and also ask AMMA what it has done for the welfare of the survivor as well as the safety other members, particularly the women. They have also questioned how AMMA elects its office-bearers, with Parvathy asserting that she was discouraged from contesting elections. Currently, all the office-bearers of AMMA are men.
AMMA has, time and again, been criticised for its partisan ways of functioning. Even though the film body has helped out several artistes in the past, allegations have always been in the air about how it is controlled by the industry heavyweights. Notably, veteran actor Thilakan had slammed AMMA for its conduct and he was sidelined by the entire industry despite being an accomplished actor.
The survivor of the assault, too, had previously complained to AMMA that she had been denied acting opportunities because of Dileep and her friendship with the latter's ex-wife, actor Manju Warrier. Mohanlal, at a press conference, however, denied that such a complaint had been given in writing. Meanwhile, there were also rumours that Mohanlal was pressuring Manju Warrier to quit the WCC. Manju is acting with Mohanlal in at least two upcoming films and it was believed that she had stepped down from the WCC on his request. However, in an interview to Manorama, Manju made it clear that she will always stand by the survivor.
Over 100 professionals from the Malayalam film industry had signed a letter raising objections to Dileep's reinstatement in AMMA. The Kannada film industry, too, had voiced their objection. However, Mohanlal, whose effigy was burnt in Kerala by protest groups, later said that Dileep had chosen to stay out of AMMA. The disgruntlement towards AMMA also spilt into the Kerala State Awards function, with a number of artistes stating that they did not want a fellow actor as the chief guest. Considering that the name of the chief guest doing the rounds was Mohanlal, several interpreted this as a sign of dissent against what AMMA had done.
The Malayalam film industry, which has always projected an image of being close-knit, displayed the cracks within it soon after a prominent woman actor was abducted and sexually assaulted in February 2017. Over a year since the brutal crime that shook Kerala, Tuesday's meeting is expected to shake things up once again within the churning industry.