The Kerala Film Producers’ Association (KFPA) on Thursday decided to scrap three major projects involving actor Shane Nigam.
Speaking at a press conference in Kerala, M Renjith, president of the association, alleged that there is rampant drug abuse on locations and film sets in the Malayalam industry, especially among the new crop of young actors, and welcomed a probe by the excise department to crack down on substance abuse.
The three films that have been scrapped are Veyil, Ullasam, and Qurbaani - all of which had actor Shane Nigam roped in to play the lead role. According to KFPA members, the decision to scrap the films and discontinue any association with Shane henceforth was made due to continuous complaints against the actor’s conduct on sets.
“For the shooting of Veyil, he has arrived on time to the sets for 2-3 days only. The rest of days, he would either disappear, or simply refuse to get out of his caravan, fight and argue with the crew and disrupt the shooting. We had to call his mother who came all the way from Kochi to the location site to drill some good sense into him. The next day he sparked a fight asking who informed his mother and took off on his motorcycle,” Rakesh B, KFPA Treasurer, told TNM.
Rakesh also alleged that following the controversy with Veyil producer Joby George, who accused Shane of violating the contract by cutting his hair before the shoot ended, Joby had been asked to stay away from the sets in order to avoid any tensions and finish the shooting without any hitches.
“After this controversy, Idavela Babu (AMMA’s General Secretary) and I promised Joby to monitor the set and Shane’s activities. This is when he decided to misbehave by not turning up. We spend 3 lakhs every day on a shoot, excluding the actors’ salaries. This industry is not something Shane can play with,” Rakesh B added.
A few days ago, Shane had posted a new picture of his with yet another hairstyle on his Instagram page, sparking rumours that he was once again in a spat with producers. Meanwhile, Ishq director Anuraj Manohar posted a statement of support to Shane. In a Facebook post, Filmmaker Anuraj Manohar of Ishq fame said that he hoped both parties would amicably resolve their disputes.
“The face of cinema is the actor. I believe that they have to be made comfortable on the sets in order to bring their best output. That is the producer’s responsibility," Anuraj said. In the post, the director also added that personal attacks on social media against Shane saddened him and that he 'hoped that the two parties would set aside their personal complexes and unite for cinema."
On Thursday, the association directed Shane to compensate in entirety for the losses incurred by the producers on scrapping the projects.
“We have spoken to the concerned producers and they will get back with the sums. We will further add other fines and give Shane a final amount that he is required to pay,” Rakesh added.
Further, the association has also decided to not completely ostracise Shane if he agrees to finish dubbing for one of the films.
“Among the three movies, Ullasam is just pending dubbing. If he wants to return to films anytime in the future, he has to agree to dub and complete the film. If he does not, we will get somebody else to dub the film. But we will entirely boycott him as an industry,” he added.
Elaborating on the complaints of drug abuse among young artists in the Malayalam industry, the KFPA source added that though the association has not filed a formal complaint, they welcomed action from the excise department in the form of caravan checks in order to address this issue.
“We are not filing a complaint as we have no concrete proof. However, we will be completely cooperative if the police decided to crack down on substance abuse, which we feel is rampant among the young generation artists in Malayalam,” Rakesh added.
Actor Shane Nigam had earlier sparked a controversy after he posted a video on Facebook accusing producer Joby George of threatening him and his family. Following the video, the producer reacted to Shane’s allegations by stating that the former had violated the contract clauses for Veyil by cutting his hair short, instead of waiting for the shoot to be completed. Shane claimed that the producer had abused his mother and manager over the issue, which had compelled him to take the the issue public.
The tiff between the duo was ostensibly resolved after KFPA and Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) intervened and settled the differences between the two parties at a meeting in October. Joby had also apologised to Shane’s family following the controversy.