A ban imposed on a legendary actor, megastars accused of wicked manipulations, trade unions politicising the issue, cultural icons pointing fingers at the stars; the state of affairs could not have been worse for the much celebrated Malayalam film industry.
Malayalam film industry, which once carved a niche for itself as an arena of supremely talented artistes and technicians, has now become a dirty mudslinging field. The controversy following the removal of thespian Thilakan from Mohanlal-starrer Christian Brothers has unfolded into a no-holds-barred slanging match involving writers and matinee idols in the state. To add fuel to the fire, fans associations too have hit the streets pledging solidarity with their stars and burning the effigies of those opposing them.
Earlier, AITUC, the trade union wing of the CPI, had declared its support for Thilakan “as the issue concerned a worker’s job security”. Soon, noted writers and Left sympathisers M Mukundan and Sukumar Azhikode jumped into the fray, saying editing out Thilakan was unfair. Mukundan retreated after one sortie, but Azhikode did not.
Azhikode vs Mohanlal
Backing Thilakan, Azhikode, a giant in the field of literary criticism, mounted an attack on Mohanlal and Mammooty, who have dominated the Malayalam film industry for 25 years.
The writer, however, did not mind offering his services to settle the differences between the industry and Thilakan. Irritated over Azhikode’s interference, Mohanlal squarely told the writer to keep away from matters concerning the industry.
Not to be cowered by the punches from the actor, the octogenarian writer, known for reacting on a wide spectrum of issues, claimed Mohanlal has been using a wig and the “young beauties in his films would collapse on the shooting location if his baldness got exposed”.
The writer, then scaled up his attack on Mohanlal, who, according to him, had illegally taken possession of the properties of his brother Pyarilal. “The aged super actors are afraid of loosing their superiority in the film industry. Mohanlal is an old man who had lost his youthfulness. He should behave like a grey. The aged should only act in roles suitable for their age. Mammootty and Mohanlal do not allow other actors to grow,” said Azhikode.
Mammooty’s diplomatic avatar
Meanwhile, Mammooty, Mohanlal’s megastar rival, and whom Thilakan had accused of playing villain in his celluloid career, downplayed the controversy. In a bid to add anticlimax for the filmdom’s revolt against Thilakan, Mammooty said all outstanding issues would be settled amicably and he was ready to act along with his senior colleague.
Unlike Mohanlal, Mammooty did not find fault with Azhikode’s intervention in the issue. There was no provocative references from Mammooty, who is the chairman of the CPM controlled Kairali TV .
Meanwhile, Thilakan on Sunday said he would not appear before the panel of actors, which is looking into his alleged indiscipline. Let Mammooty take the role of mediator, suggested Thilakan.