The new leadership of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) led by superstar Mohanlal has outraged many after it decided to reinstate the membership of Dileep, who is facing court trial for allegedly masterminding the abduction and sexual assault of a female actor to settle his personal score. The actors’ body is now taking a lot of heat for being inconsiderate to the survivor of the attack, who was also part of the association. She was one of the first members to resign in protest and a few other leading female actors followed suit.
Here is a timeline of events leading up to the exit of four female actors from AMMA:
February 17 attack
The survivor was traveling to Kochi from Thrissur in her car on the day of the incident. Her car was waylaid near Angamaly and she was sexually assaulted inside her own car. Her ordeal in the moving car lasted for about two hours till they reached Palarivattom. The crime was perpetrated by a gang of four led by primary accused Pulsar Suni. The same day with the help of one of her industry friends, she filed a police complaint.
Stoic silence in the industry
It almost took a day for the Malayalam film industry to wake up to the shocking attack perpetrated on one of its own and speak out against it. Prithviraj was one of the first celebrities to issue the statement condemning the attack.
Malayalam industry come together
On February 19, the entire Malayalam film industry gathered at the Durbar Hall ground in Kochi to express their support and solidarity with the survivor. Earlier, the same day, two suspects including the survivor’s car driver Martin were held.
Dileep lashes out at media
The media was rife with conspiracy theories about the involvement of industry insiders. Soon Dileep’s name began to crop up in news reports. The reports claimed that an actor from Aluva was questioned by the police, prompting Dileep to issue a statement. He rubbished the reports of him being questioned by the police.
Pulsar Suni’s dramatic arrest
The main accused in the case, Pulsar Suni, managed to evade police arrest for about six days. By then, the police already had four suspects in its custody. Suni and his associate Vigeesh on February 23, 2017 appeared at the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate court to surrender themselves. However, as the judge was away from the courtroom on a lunch break, it allowed the police to grab the suspects from the accused box and whisk them away.
Dileep does an interview
As the speculations about Dileep’s role in the case was getting a lot of attention in the media, in April last year, he gave a detailed interview to a leading Malayalam news channel. The actor said he was very much troubled by the allegations and was under a lot of emotional stress. “Two days after the incident, there were rumours about my involvement. I even thought of committing suicide. But, I didn’t because of my daughter,” he had said.
Noose tightens around Dileep
Malayalam news channels in June last year, broadcast an audio recording of an alleged blackmail call that was received by Dileep’s close aides. According to the audio, Suni, allegedly had phoned Nadirsha and Appunni, demanding a sum of Rs 1.5 crore to keep quiet on Dileep’s alleged role in the case. A letter, which was purportedly written by Suni to Dileep, also surfaced in the media.
Dileep put out a statement on his Facebook page, rubbishing reports. The actor said he was ready to cooperate with the police officials and even open to taking narco-analysis, lie detection tests to clear his name in the case.
AMMA and Malayalam film celebrities stand by Dileep
Actors Aju Varghese and Salim Kumar issued statements in support of Dileep, while apparently blaming the survivor for Dileep’s plight. Director Lal Jose also vouched for Dileep’s innocence. On June 29, 2017, the 23rd general body meeting of AMMA was held. And during the press briefing, the executive members of the association lost cool when they were questioned about Dileep’s alleged role in the case. The office-bearers of AMMA said that they fully support Dileep and the actress in question during their trying times, calling them kids of AMMA.
On July 10, 2017, Dileep was questioned for about five hours before the police took him into custody for allegedly being a co-conspirator in the case.
AMMA disowns Dileep
Dileep’s arrest sent a shock wave across the film industry. Hours after his arrest, the executive committee of AMMA chaired an emergency meeting in Kochi and revoked the actor’s membership. The Kerala Film Producers Association and Film Employees Federation of Kerala also suspended Dileep’s primary membership in their organisations.
Dileep walks out on bail
After spending 85 days in Aluva Sub jail, Dileep walked out of the jail on October 10, 2017, hours after he was granted bail by the Kerala High Court. He stepped out of the jail to loud cheers from fans. He acknowledged and thanked his fans and quickly got into his car and left the place without speaking to the media.
Dileep gets back to business
A day after Dileep was released on conditional bail, he was reinstated as the president of the Film Exhibitors’ United Organisation of Kerala (FEUOK). Actor-politician KB Ganesh Kumar slammed Mammootty for pushing Dileep out of AMMA without following due process owing to the pressure from Prithviraj.
Within days he was back on the sets to complete Kammara Sambhavam. In November, he even got his passport back to fly out to Dubai to launch his restaurant Dhe Puttu.
SIT submits additional chargesheet
SIT named Dileep as the eight accused, while his ex-wife Manju Warrier as one of the key witnesses in its supplementary chargesheet, which it submitted to the Angamaly court on November 22.
AMMA gets a new president
Mohanlal was elected unopposed as the president of AMMA after Mammootty decided to withdraw his candidacy. The election was necessitated after Innocent, who held the president position at AMMA for 18 years, decided to step down.
Dileep back in AMMA?
On June 24 this year, the first general body meeting of AMMA under the new leadership decided to take back Dileep claiming he was removed in haste.
WCC slams AMMA
The Women in Cinema Collective (WCC), which was formed in the aftermath of the February 17 attack, termed AMMA’s decision to reinstate Dileep as ‘anti-woman.” On June 27, the survivor, Rima Kallingal, Remya Nambeesan and Geethu Mohandas quit the association suggesting the association’s lack of concern for its women members.