October 23, 2019 4:19:40 am
National-award winning actress from Kerala Manju Warrier has filed a police complaint, alleging that she faced a threat to her life from advertisement and film director V A Shrikumar Menon.
In her complaint, handed over to Kerala Police chief, DGP Lokanath Behera, on Monday, Warrier also accused Menon of defaming her through orchestrated campaigns on social media, particularly after the December 2018 release of his film Odiyan, in which she was cast opposite renowned actor Mohanlal.
The actress has appealed for professional assistance from the directors’ unit of the Film Employees Federation of Kerala, and the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists, the actors’ organisation.
In an emotional Facebook post, Menon wrote that he heard about the complaint through news reports, and that he is ready to comply with the probe. “Even as I stood with you overcoming threats and challenges, you have defeated me…” he posted.
DGP Behera told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram, “I have received the complaint. Let us examine it; we will do whatever is legally possible.”
A special cell headed by Deputy SP Rajkumar has started preliminary investigation into the complaint. “I cannot comment on contents of the complaint right now,” Rajkumar said.
Warrier, who has acted in nearly 40 Malayalam films, was earlier friends with Menon and had returned to the film industry after a decade-long hiatus. The 41-year-old had left the industry in late 1990s after marrying actor Dileep, now accused of criminal intimidation and rape in a 2017 actress abduction case.
In 2012, she returned to public spotlight with Menon’s help through an advertisement for a jewellery chain that he directed. Two years later, around the time she filed for divorce from Dileep, Warrier made a comeback to films through the critically acclaimed How Old Are You?. She has acted in several films since then.
Their 2018 film Odiyan, Menon’s debut as a feature film director, was a commercial success, but they reportedly fell out over the involvement of his firm, Push Integrated Communications, in charitable activities of her philanthropic organisation, Manju Warrier Foundation. In her complaint, Warrier has alleged that Menon may be misusing the organisation’s records through blank letterheads and cheques, and trying to siphon off money.
Warrier did not respond to requests for a comment.
Menon wrote on Facebook: “…When you left your home stating that you had only Rs 1500 in your bank account, I gave you a cheque for Rs 25 lakh as advance payment for the advertisement. You forgot that you had broken down then, saying that I was God’s messenger to you.”
Ex-journalist also accused
Menon’s friend Mathew Samuel, a former managing editor of Tehelka magazine, has also been named in Warrier’s complaint in connection with allegations of cyber-harassment. Samuel, who was later CEO of online media outlet Narada News, was behind the sting operation that showed Trinamool Congress leaders allegedly taking bribe in exchange for favours.
Kolkata Police has filed two cases against Samuel, who is the CBI’s prime witness in the Narada sting case.
Menon posted, “Yes, Mathew Samuel is my close friend of many years. But why should our friendship trouble you?”
Samuel shared a video on Facebook and claimed that could be the reason Warrier has accused him. He claimed that Warrier had promised to build homes for poor Adivasi and Muslim families in a Wayanad village through her foundation but was unable to do so. “In this video, 52 poor Adivasi families and 7 Muslim families are telling how they have been cheated by celebrity publicity. Manju Warrier destroyed these families…” Samuel wrote, adding that he is ready to face any legal battle. —Inputs from ENS, Kolkata
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