In the wee hours of February 17 this year, an incident which ought not to have happened anywhere in the world or the nation for that matter, occurred when a popular South Indian actress was abducted, molested and her nudity video graphed within a moving car on the National highway 47, as she was returning after a shooting assignment. The criminal gang let her go after the three-hour ordeal, threatening to release the video if she complained to the police. During the ordeal, the main accused, Pulsar Suni (a bad advertisement for the two-wheeler of pulsar brand), had told the victim that he was given a quotation (like a supari crime), and that he was forced to do this. However, the gusty actress complained, and the police proceeded to arrest all directly involved in the crime without delay. But through it all, the strong suspicion that the ‘dirty job’ was executed at the behest of somebody powerful and influential took roots. The case then went into hibernation as is characteristic of all such cases.
In the mean time, the molested actress, instead of selling her woes or airing emotions in public, let the investigations take its course, and creditably went about her profession of acting. She even got engaged to her longtime beau. Thanks to her character, which was characterized by bravado, self-respect and belief in herself, she refused to shed tears before the hungry cameras of the media, especially the visual one, which specializes in making hay, whenever and wherever the sun shines. She must have wept on her mother’s shoulders privately like any beleaguered daughter would. The entire state stood up to applaud this brave lady with character of steel. It continues to do so even today. She deserves that.
A case that seemed to be dying a natural death, like any other of this kind are doomed to, resurrected itself, acquiring new life. This was catalyzed by Pulsar Suni’s letter to a prominent ‘superstar’ of Mollywood, which the Malayalam tinsel town is popularly known as. The superstar, Dileep, who is popularly known as ‘the most popular hero’, thanks to his numerous back-to-back hits was suspected to be involved in some way to the abduction case. It was rumored that the superstar had nursed personal enmity and grudge with the victim related to his divorce and benami land holdings. While rumors were doing rounds, the people of the state refused to believe the popular actor’s involvement or his connivance in an act which couldn’t have been more abysmal. The Association of Malayalam Movie Actors (AMMA), whose treasurer Dileep was at that time, was caught in a catch-22 situation. It maintained an equidistant policy between Dileep, its office bearer, and the victim, its member, and a woman. Dileep through a Face book post vociferously denied any involvement in the crime. His fans, colleagues and the entire state believed him.
That’s when the bombshell went off. Pulsar Suni shot off a letter to Dileep asking for money, blackmailing the latter of letting the cat out of the bag in case of nonpayment. An audio clip of the blackmail call made over the mobile phone also surfaced. How a prison inmate could get hold of a mobile phone remains an enigma. All hell broke loose. The case inevitably rejuvenated itself. The Kerala police swung into action. Incriminating evidence of Dileep’s hand-in-glove involvement in the crime was recovered from his wife boutique. Following this, ‘themost popular hero’ and his friend, and also a movie and business associate Nadirshah were grilled by the police for 13 hours. The police had done its homework well. ‘The most popular hero’ walked into the trap. Truth was laid bare. Dileep’s involvement in sexually violating his colleague’s modesty to settle scores by paying a quotation gang was exposed unequivocally. That the plot to molest the actress was hatched way back in 2013 in a hotel room in Kochi worked against Dileep. He and Nadirshah were arrested, and the former shorn of his official position and primary membership within AMMA. The entire state was stunned. Kerala and the superstar’s fans felt badly let down and betrayed. When the Dileep-Nadirshah duo was arrested on July 11, every man in Kerala hung his head in shame.
- A person, so prominent in society had by proxy violated the modesty of his colleague by resorting to cheap means, which lower animals would hesitate to. The modus operandi Dileep chose to settle scores with his woman colleague could not be condoned whatever be the grouse he had against her.
- Society looks up to a popular movie star, especially of Dileep’s popularity and ability as an icon. Impressionable youth and the naïve young generation look up to such a person as role model. Dileep let them all down. He emerged a poor example.
- Being a father, he let down his daughter, who has now been reduced to an orphan as her mother had walked off the marriage through divorce. After the divorce, his daughter had chose to stay with her father. Her trust in her father was torn asunder through his dark deed, adding to her already unhappy childhood and teenage hood.
- He let down his colleagues and the Association of which he was an office-bearer who had stood behind him, trusting his integrity as a man of substance and character.
- He let down an art that movie and movie production is, he being a producer of repute himself.
- More than anything else, he let down manhood in Kerala, because of which men in the state have been put to shame, which will stick to them for a very long time. Following this, Malayalee men have had to walk with bowed heads!
- Dileep the superstar contributed to the shameful statistics of atrocities against women in Kerala which stands at an average of about 15,000 annually since 2015.
- An actor himself, Dileep went on to represent, and be part of the general decline in the quality of movies being churned out from Mollywood, as a medium of ‘entertainment’, which it has ceased to be these days. The 2-3 hour crass nonsense being projected in movie theatres across the state have lately been reduced to a distasteful and crude ‘art form’, in terms of storylines(which lack originality and imagination), scripts(dialogues being reduced to the unutterable), music(with lyrics that rips Malayalam language apart and tunes that have you reach for your earplugs) , the language(that defies civility and basic decency).A Malayalam movie, now is a medium which magnifies and dwells on the dark underbelly of today’s society. Most of them are filmed in the dark alleys and cul-de-sacs, (where assorted crime is hatched and executed in the most distasteful manner) of the popular coastal town of Fort Cochin, a heritage tourist locale of ‘Old Kochi’, where quotation gangs, manned by ‘people’ who seem to have failed to complete the process of evolution, bred on drugs, booze and intoxicating smoke, and their misdeeds are projected. Dileep through his dark deed came to represent all that. He acted out this ‘story in real life’ to perfection, as if to win him numerous awards long the way viz: the best villain (which he shared with the pulsar guy), the best actor (which he shared with the police). The best actress award was deservedly bagged by the brave victim of course. The movie had all the trappings of a newgen crap being churned out these days, with a storyline so puerile, the script so indigestible and the climax most macabre!
As with any negative turnaround society is called up to face, there has been a few positives emerge as silver innings.
- The police of Kerala did a commendable job in investigating the case and arresting a prominent and influential person.
- The victim had set an example to every woman in the state through her strength all through the ordeal. She remained ladylike, on the strength of her colleagues’ support, who backed her to the very end. She adorned the cloak of justice without pleading for it or begging for it from rooftops, much to the disappointment to the media.
- The media, all through the drama, and its aftermath never, even once named the unfortunate victim. That was commendable. Though everyone in the state knew the identity of the victim, to name her publicly would have sullied privacy, etiquette and sensibility. But Dileep never had that luxury. His name was revealed by the fourth estate, and rightfully so, the moment he was arrested. That’s the price a wayward man is called upon to pay, appropriately.
- The women fraternity of Mollywood united themselves, forming a forum, WCC (Women’s Collective for Cinema) for themselves within AMMA, who stood by the victim till justice was meted out, reinstating some semblance of optimism within a withering society.
How does a disappointed Kerala plan to deal with this crimester, who badly let her down? Before this could appear in print, Dileep could be, through bail (one of the curses of Indian judicial system) out of jail. Every citizen of Kerala, irrespective of gender and age must take it as his/her responsibility to boycott every film of him from henceforth, if and when he returns to acting. Every citizen must boycott his business concerns, especially the restaurant chain ‘De puttu’ , which had made substantial inroads as one of the Malayalee’s favorite eating places, including mine. His restaurant chain had helped crown ‘puttu’, Kerala’s authentic dish, as ‘king’ among Kerala cuisine. All that has dimmed in the shadow cast by his animal deed, and shamefully so. The benumbed people of Kerala would also request his estranged wife to take his heartbroken daughter under her umbrage, as her father cools his criminal feet in prison. If this is not a moment when a young girl would yearn for the succor and comfort within her mother’s arms, then what is?