Expectations were pretty high when Mohanlal announced a press conference. The newly elected president of Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) did not have much to say on various controversies that Mollywood is facing and preferred to keep his meet with the media within the realm of a well tutored public relations exercise. He preferred to speak in a low tone and tenor, occasionally flash a smile and almost restated what has been told and retold on celebrity star Dileep, the attack on celebrity star on the eve of her marriage and important and crucial issues raised by Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) relating to the plight of lady artistes in the Malayalam film industry.
His was a well rehearsed performance in balancing, more like a circus star. For instance he expressed support to the unfortunate celebrity who was sexually assaulted, but also mentioned his prayers for Dileep. Issues of WCC need to be addressed. He said hewants to talk on all controversial issues and was keen to carry all together under the AMMA flag. He perhaps wanted to convey an impression that he has an open mind and prefers to resolve issues to the satisfaction of all. However, some felt in the industry that he cleverly wanted to hide the errors and omissions of the male-dominated AMMA in the running of which women were not given their due, either by design or accident. Mohanlal does not require any script, but was well briefed to keep the occasion a PR event with minimum negative points.
Yes, many were disappointed. He had no solution to offer. Being shrewd, he only talked of steps to be taken immediately: Talks with all indicating that his desire to approach the problems free from inherited baggage. He was trying his best to hurt none. He expressed hope to resolve the issues. But he did not raise any expectations.
He slipped badly once at least while announcing a decision on keeping Dileep outside AMMA. He said that since Dileep has left the organization there was no question of taking him back. But the facts available so far is that Dileep has informed AMMA that he did not want to be active in the organization. He has not said that he would like to resign. Given the facts that have emerged so far, how can he announce that Dileep is not part of the organization? Or has the top policy making forum of AMMA taken a decision. If not Mohanlal’s announcement about keeping Dileep out of AMMA is legally incorrect. There were few other minor slips.
Mohanlal wanted to tell all that he had no magic wand. But a role model for many, Mohanlal, should have at least spoken his mind on the demand for safe and secure work space for women in the Malayalam film industry. It is a fair demand. What is wrong in such a demand. What is controversial in it. Or can anyone argue that such an assurance cannot be given? It is a right. Denial of such a right is a criminal act.
The least he should have done is give an assurance on the demand and that he would everything to meet the just demand of lady artists. None of his male colleagues would have objected to such a statement at least openly. His own stock among the film community and the general public would have gone up. For the issues raised by the WCC has shocked virtually every home in Kerala. The abduction and harassment of a lady celebrity artist was universally condemned, not just Kerala but all over India. The image of the industry in the state was painted with the blackest brush by that one incident.
Be that as it may in spite of the disappointment there is expectation that Mohanlal would take effective steps to resolve the issues and pull out AMMA from the present problems. He has already taken steps to start negotiations and formed a committee to deal with such issues, reports indicate. That is a good news.
However to resolve issues PR approach will not help. To be just sometimes may lead to hurting some people. Some may turn life time enemies. He will have to come out of the PR mould and like a hero, a role he has done many films, he will have to be bold and unmindful of consequences. Perhaps he will have to be Pulimurugan.