Murky episode in Kerala's tinsel town

Murky episode in Kerala's tinsel town

Will the case end in conviction or will it be a long-drawn out legal wrangle ending up as another acquittal?

The Malayalam film industry is frozen to its marrow with the arrest of its superstar Dileep in a conspiracy case. He is supposed to have masterminded the kidnap and molestation of a female actress who had co-starred with him in many films. The grapevine has it that he sought revenge for her being friends with his ex-wife and for the ‘indiscretion’ of informing her some of his secret dalliances.

The crime was executed through a contract (quotation in the local parlance), involving a couple of crores of rupees. Revenge can be very costly based on the gravity of the revenge and hate.

It’s not just the Malayalam industry that is chilled to their bones. The film industry as a whole, in the entire country, is speaking in hush-hush tones about what was long an open secret, the ever-prevalent underbelly of criminality and venality.

Beneath the glitz and glamour of the film world there is a huge criminal undercurrent. Nobody is prepared to bring to the open. Things happen very too often, and it is hushed up through methods both soft and harsh depending on the people involved.

Threats, intimidation, harassment, extortion, blackmailing are all happening behind the apparent flashiness of the tinsel world. Money, greed, jealousy and ego are often the cause of hate and enmity. Palace intrigues are aplenty. Exploitation and harassment of women go unquestioned oftentimes.

In the wake of this incident in Kerala, the women artistes formed an association and acted as a pressure group which seemed to have made waves all across the state. They even met the chief minister with their grievances.

This by itself is clear evidence that actresses were at the receiving end for long. Their pent-up anger and disgust with the goings-on reached a flashpoint with the latest incident. This surely is not a one-off incident. Such devious methods of blackmail and revenge have persisted, but were often covered up.

The organisation of the film fraternity called AMMA (Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes) also did not cover itself with glory in this murky epi­sode. It has egg all over its face.

The Kerala Police are known for their professionalism. They are the only ones who came out unscathed in this otherwise sordid drama. The chief minister himself had blundered soon after the crime in February saying that it was a simple act of criminality and no conspiracy was involved.

Now, it is proved beyond any reasonable doubt that it was deep-rooted conspiracy hatch­ed over a period of three years and carried out with great planning and precision. However, as it often happens, the perpetrators haven’t covered their tracks fully and well. Tell-tale hints were strewn here and there and the police could tie the loose ends and rebuild the entire story convincingly.

How this crime sequence that shook the entire Malayali population inside the state and outside finally will unravel in the court of law is anybody’s guess. How long it is going to take is also another concern. ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’ is a dictum oft-repeated but never practised.

What this shameful crime throws up for a social audit is the nexus between the film world and crime. Criminals find entry into any area of activity where hush money is involved. The best examples are films, real estate and politics. In fact, they are all mixed up. They all complement each other.

In other words, we cannot imagine politics without crime; neither real estate nor films can be free of crime. So long as this goes unchecked, crimes for money, greed or revenge will continue to happen and innocent people will suffer.

Study needed
There is a need to study in detail what’s happening in these areas. There are a few categories of people who suffer because of the dominance of a vice-like grip of the superstars and megastars. They dictate terms to the total submission of all others including the producers and directors.

The entire state of Kerala is waiting with bated breath to see the outcome of this criminal case. Will it end in conviction or will it be a long-drawn out legal wrangle finally ending up as another acquittal for lack of evidence? The court will hear a totally different story perhaps.

Our criminal justice system needs a thorough revamp to fix the loopholes which help well-heeled criminals escape with impunity. The Mallyas and Shashikalas are one too many in our country.

They enjoy privileges way beyond our imagination. Currently, a DIG’s report is doing the rounds in Karnataka, involving Shashikala’s VIP privileges in the Bengaluru jail. It would seem that the common man alone can be reached by the long arm of law.

All are equal before law is a good axiom, but a far cry from reality. Some are more equal than others. The Dileep case is yet another test case for the impartiality and efficacy of our legal system.

(The writer is Director, Little Rock Indian School, Brahmavar, Udupi)

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