Dramatic scenes, rivalling a cinema plot, played out at the Aluva Police Club in Kerala Wednesday when Malayalam actor Dileep and director Nadirshah were grilled by the police for close to 13 hours, unheard of in the state, in connection with the kidnapping and alleged molestation of a leading actress.
The actor, known for starring in several commercially successful movies over the last 25 years, arrived at the police club in Aluva close to 12 noon Wednesday and spent the next 13 hours recording his statement in front of the police. He finally walked out at 1:30 am Thursday, accompanied by Nadirshah, tired and completely drained. To the waiting media coterie, the actor maintained that he had given his statement in conjunction with the complaint he had registered earlier of being threatened and blackmailed by certain persons after the police started an investigation into the actress kidnapping case. “It is important for me too for the truth to come out,” he said before being whisked away in a car.
How it began
The actress, equally popular as Dileep in the state, was abducted on the night of February 17 this year while she was on her way from Thrissur to Kochi in her car. It is alleged that she was molested and photographs were taken by the abductors who later dumped her by the side of a road near the house of a film producer. Following the harrowing incident, the actress registered a complaint at a nearby police station naming Sunil Kumar, aka Pulsar Suni as the leader of the gang who abducted her. In her complaint, she recounted that Suni told her that he was given a ‘quotation’ to cause her harm at the behest of higher powers.
After a week of police facing intense criticism for not being able to make any headway in the case, Suni was finally arrested when he reportedly came to surrender at the premises of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM) court in Ernakulam in February. Following his arrest, several of his gang members and those involved in the February 17 incident were picked up by the police.
How Dileep’s name came into the picture
The case got a fresh lease of life last week when it was leaked that Vishnu, an accomplice of Suni who spent time with him in the jail, reportedly demanded Rs 1.5 crore from Dileep for not framing him in the case. Nadirshah told reporters that he had received a call from Vishnu in March in which he asked for Rs 1.5 crore if they did not want to be involved in the case. Incidentally, Vishnu was one of the two persons arrested by the police in connection with the blackmailing complaint that Dileep had registered with the police. It is even being reported that Vishnu told the duo that there were people in the film industry who had offered him Rs 2 crore for framing them in the case. All of these allegations are being investigated by the police.
However, Dileep said that he was being tortured and humiliated for a crime he never committed. He added that ‘these people’ have an aim of commercially defeating his movies and eliminating him from the industry. “I am being character assassinated,” the actor said.
Dileep’s marathon interrogation
Never before has an actor in Kerala gone through the kind of grilling that Dileep underwent for 13 hours at the police club on Wednesday. The actor said he was recording his statement in the blackmailing complaint but sources say he was asked about his connections in the film world, his past friendship with the actress and whether he knew the main accused Pulsar Suni.
Sources said the actor was asked questions separately and then together with director Nadirshah and his manager Appunni. The interrogation was led by Additional Director General of Police, B Sandhya along with Aluva Rural SP AV George and Perumbavur CI Biju Poulose. The police later told the media that none of them have been given a ‘clean chit’ and if needed would be questioned again.
Except for a tea break for 15 mins and then a longer break for dinner at around 9 pm, the questioning was reportedly uninterrupted. The actor stepped out of the police club at 1:30 am early Thursday morning. He said he will attend the two-day general body meeting of Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) of which he is a member. The actor also has a film ‘Ramleela’ scheduled for release soon.
How the film industry reacted
Both Dileep and the actress, who have even starred together in movies, have received equal support from the film industry as allegations and counter-allegations continue to whirl around the case. ‘Women in Cinema Collective’, a newly formed group of female artists, pledged support to the actress recently. The collective said that the allegations being made against the actress were a violation of constitutional and human rights principles. Salim Kumar, a prominent actor, had said in a Facebook post, which was later withdrawn, that the actress and the main accused, Pulsar Suni, need to undergo a lie-detector test.
At the same time, when Dileep’s name figured in the case, several directors and actors came forward in the actor’s support. Lal Jose, a director said in a Facebook post, “I have known you for 26 years. I believe in you. Even if anyone tries to taint you, I will be with you along with many filmmakers.”
Aju Varghese, Jude Anthany Joseph also put out statements in support of Dileep.
Impact on the political arena
The abduction of the actress in February had provoked widespread reactions on and off social media about the safety and security of women in Kerala. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and ministers in the government were targeted by the Opposition Congress and the BJP for its ‘failing’ law and order in the state.
The Congress had also hurled allegations of major bungling by the Kerala Police in the case. Since the police came directly under the Chief Minister, the attacks were aimed at Vijayan. However, the Chief Minister assured justice for the actress promising that such incidents will not be repeated.