Following director Biju’s post that he would not participate in the Kerala State Film Awards distribution event if actor Mohanlal was the chief guest, a number of prominent members from the film industry as well as activists, media persons and others associated with the cinema field have signed a statement endorsing the sentiment.
Well-known names like Prakash Raj, NS Madhavan, Sachidanandan, KG Sankaran Pillai, Rajeev Ravi, Dr Biju, Bina Paul, Rima Kallingal, Geetu Mohandas, MN Karassery, Prakash Bare, Vidhu Vincent, Sajitha Madathil, Sruthi Hariharan, Siddharth Siva, Shahina Nafeesa, Didi Damodaran and film critic Maneesh Narayanan, among others, have made the joint declaration.
The statement reads: “The Kerala state film award is the highest recognition given by a state for creative work in cinema. It is the highest honour that Malayalam cinema artistes get from their own land. Therefore this award should be given to them in an atmosphere suited to them receiving the honour.”
Adding that the Kerala government should follow the national model for giving the awards, the statement goes on to say, “The stage should host a simple function where the Chief Minister presents the awards in the presence of the Cultural Minister. Bypassing the Chief Minister and the award winners and inviting a chief guest is not only improper but also belittling the achievement of the award winners.”
Like Dr Biju’s post, which had pointed out the impropriety in having one actor honour another instead of the Chief Minister, the statement says, “When the chief guest is an actor whose films too have been part of the fray for the awards, this would really be belittling for the award winners. We are reminding you to not allow such a practice in the state film award function. The chief guests should only be the Chief Minister, Cultural Minister and award winners. Failing that and inviting another chief guest does not give a good message. Such a practice should not be allowed in any year.”
Dr Biju, a jury member, had come down heavily on the Kerala government’s move to invite Mohanlal as the chief guest. The director had slammed the decision, pointing out that the Cultural Minister seemed to be out of touch with the current developments in the Malayalam film industry.
As soon as Mohanlal took over as the President of AMMA (Association of Malayalam Move Artistes), the film body reinstated rape accused Dileep, who had been removed soon after his arrest in the actor assault and abduction case. Dileep’s return was widely criticised and following this, Mohanlal held a press meet in which he said that Dileep had refused to come back to AMMA. Mohanlal also uttered falsehoods in the press meet, claiming that the reinstatement to the film body had been part of the agenda and that nobody had raised objections.
However, as documents accessed by TNM confirm, such an item was not listed for discussion in the AMMA general body meeting.
Other signatories include CV Balakrishnan, MN Karassery, Sanalkumar Sasidharan, Anwar Ali.
(This copy was first published on The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)
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