Malayalam actor Dileep has been having a rough time in the public eye of late. His sudden wedding to co-star Kavya Madhavan who was rumored to be the reason for his divorce from Manju Warrier, elicited a lot of outrage and abuse, especially on social media.
After this, when a popular Malayalam actor was abducted and allegedly raped by a gang of men, rumours about Dileep's involvement in the case began to do the rounds. These were strengthened all the more by the survivor's interview to a Malayalam magazine, where she said that she believed there was a larger conspiracy behind what had happened to her.
In an interview to Manorama Online, Dileep has denied these rumours. Saying he was surprised when fingers started pointing at him for what had happened, the actor said he was extremely upset with the stories doing the rounds.
"I even thought of committing suicide," Dileep said. He claimed that while the actor had been physically harassed, he went through emotional harassment. (Yet another example of how men appropriate women's experience of sexual violence insensitively and make it about themselves - we feel compelled to add.)
Recalling the day he found out about what had happened to the actor, Dileep said that he was shocked, and that he had spoken to her mother and told her to give strength to the actor. "Women in this situation may commit suicide, become mentally affected, stop speaking. But she gave a complaint and resumed normal life in two days. I admire her courage," he said.
Dileep also spoke about his fallout with the actor, who made her debut in his film. "I knew her father. He was a very nice man and I knew their family circumstances. So I used to suggest her name to filmmakers for my films," he claimed. But they had a fallout later, Dileep claimed, and said he stopped recommending her for his films since they no longer got along.
"I can only act with someone with whom I share a comfort zone," he said. "However, I didn't do anything to stop her acting in other people's films or other industries. I have no power over other industries."
‘Married Kavya since she was in trouble because of me’
In the interview, Dileep also spoke about his divorce with Manju Warrier and his wedding with Kavya Madhavan.
Categorically denying that Kavya Madhavan was the reason for his divorce, the actor said, "I have submitted the reasons behind my divorce with evidence and eyewitness accounts to the court. Because I didn't want to cause any inconvenience to my ex wife, I'd made these confidential."
He added that Manju and he were not just husband and wife, and that they were very close friends, too. He claimed that there were people who had told her false stories about him trying to stop her from doing things and that he'd never interfered in her issues after they'd gone their separate ways.
Dileep claimed that he had decided to marry Kavya Madhavan mainly because of pressure from family and friends and the fact that his daughter was growing up and would need a woman to confide in. (Yes, this interview was given in 2017 and is not from an 80s melodrama.)
"Kavya's marriage supposedly was in trouble because of me," Dileep said, adding that this is why he decided to marry her (the benevolence!). According to him, he has ‘strong affection’ for all his heroines, but that couldn't be misconstrued as love.
Actor goes after journalists
Dileep also took several digs at news reader Venu of Mathrubhumi channel during the interview, insinuating that the latter had a roving eye.
Next, Dileep went after Pallisery, a film journalist, alleging that Pallisery held a grudge against him for not paying up in return for generating positive news about him.
"After I said no to his demands, there was a damaging story about me," he claimed. He also said that Pallisery had once published a fake interview of his after he'd declined to do one with him.
Dileep then said that Pallisery had asked him for help to make his son an Assistant Director but that he'd advised the journalist not to do such a thing, "His son might become a director, make a hit film. He'll become famous. Then they might have a fallout and this man might take a photograph of his son lying around the house, morph it with some woman and make a juicy story out of it and spoil his future." (Keeping it classy, Dileep, very classy.)
On Liberty Basheer
Speaking on the stand off between distributors and theatre owners which had stalled the release of Malayalam films for several weeks, Dileep said that he'd intervened only with the support of industry seniors including Mammootty and Mohanlal and that he wouldn't have taken this up if the situation hadn't forced him to.
Liberty Basheer, the Exhibitor's Federation president, had come under much flak for his autocratic stance. However, Dileep said that he'd been associated with Basheer earlier and that even now, he did not have any issue with him.
"I took this up only because cinema is my bread and butter and so it is for many others. And when it reached a situation when the people who made films had no value, and when others also requested me, I took this up," he said.
He also spoke about his theatre D Cinemas in Chalakuddy, explaining why the ticket prices there had been increased and that it was to keep up the quality of the place.
On his future move
Dileep said that in future, he'd act against the section of the press spreading rumours about him. "Everyone knows I don't react, that's why they've been doing this. Leave me alone because from now on, I will respond. If I start talking, it will create a lot of trouble," he said. "Leave my personal life alone and I will leave yours alone."