Controversies are nothing new in the film industry. But things turn ugly when battle lines are drawn in public. While actor Shane Nigam and producer Joby George's ugly war intensified since Wednesday night, Malayalam filmdom has just witnessed another case of tussle within.
With both parties taking the issue to the public domain, office-bearers of the Producers Association and Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) have taken up the issue, and doing their best to ensure things don't flare up further.
Many issues have rocked Malayalam cinema in recent times with members from the fraternity taking sides. And sometimes, the real actions have been worse than the reel ones. Today, we take a look at a few such instances:
Story board 1: Dileep-Thulasidas
Actor Dileep and director Thulasidas joined hands on a project titled 'Kuttanadan Express' and this film was to be produced by Ullattil Films. Once the shoot commenced, Dileep was reluctant and he opted out from the film. Thulasidas was then ousted from the project and came Deepu Karunakaran as his replacement.
Thulasidas then blamed Dileep for loosing out on the project and claimed that the actor had taken an advance of Rs 40 lakh for acting in the film. He also alleged that Dileep was busy with the production of AMMA's maiden film project 'Twenty–Twenty'.
Dileep in response said that Thulasidas was busy shooting for a Mohanlal film on the dates that Dileep had given. He also stated that he was left without any work on the said dates. So, Dileep asked for a compensation for spoiling his dates. He also clarified then that he would work with the producer of the film and with any other director as he has already taken the advance, but will not work under Thulasidas.
The controversy reached the technicians' forum, MACTA (Malayalam Cine Technicians Association). Filmmaker Vinayan, the general secretary of MACTA who too had once boycotted in the industry, then promptly decided to ban the hero but AMMA came in support of Dileep. This apparently led to MACTA's split into two bodies. Thus emerged the now powerful Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA).
The movie 'Kuttanadan Express' was shelved and from 2008, Thulasidas faced an unofficial ban like Vinayan in the past for standing against Dileep. The duo continued to make movies with technical help from Tamil and Telugu film industries but failed to leave a mark at the box office. It was much later in 2017 that the Kerala Film Producers Association as well as the FEFKA expelled Dileep after he was accused in the actress attack case.
Story board 2: Meera Jasmine– Kamal, Manoj Alunkal
Veteran director Kamal worked with Meera Jasmine in four films and it was only years later that he lashed out against her in a column of a regional newspaper. Kamal first worked with Meera for his film Gramophone which released in 2003 and he followed it up with Swapnakkudu which also had the same heroine. While shooting for Gramophone, Kamal said that he had warned her many times about her rude behaviour with the film’s technicians. Kamal revealed that she had even tore a dress given to her by the costume designer. He even complained about her being late for the shoot and even superstars like Mohanlal had to wait for her. “She was unprofessional and she mixed her personal issues with her professional life,” Kamal wrote in the column.
In 2015, Manoj Alunkal, the debutant director of Ithinumappuram, had cast Meera and Riyaz Khan as the lead, and surprisingly he too raised the same issue against Meera like Kamal. In an exclusive interview to Onmanorama then he had claimed that Meera is a talented artiste but unprofessional to the core. According to Manoj, Meera had asked for a remuneration of Rs 25 lakh for 30 days of her time. Manoj, who was also the film producer, also alleged Meera would not come on time and would only act in those sequences she wanted to do. He also claimed that he was asked to pay the advance Rs 15 lakh at her home and the rest at her Dubai residence. Even after all the payments were done, Manoj stated that “I had to face additional financial burden on account of her ego and stubbornness.”
Kamal eventually stopped working with Meera and continued making movies. Pranaya Meenukalude Kadal, which hit the screens recently, is his latest movie.
On the other hand, Manoj had mentioned that after a very rocky first schedule, Meera did not turn up for the second schedule. This forced him to lodge a complaint with the Producers’ Association. Thus, she eventually completed the second schedule a year after her marriage, thus adding to his financial burden. The movie finally hit the screens but failed miserably at the box office. Manoj did not make any other movie after 'Ithinumappuram'.
Meera is now settled in Dubai with family and with her recent photos going viral on social media, reports were rife that the actress will make a comeback soon. She was last seen in 2016 movie 'Pathu Kalpanakal'.
Story board 3: Sandra Thomas- Vijay Babu
Sandra and Vijay Babu had started their joint business venture after she produced the film 'Friday'. Both went on to make films like Zachariayude Garbhinikal, Philips and the Monkey Pen and Adi Kapyare Koottamani under the banner of Friday films.
Sandra married Wilson John Thomas, also an entrepreneur in July 2016.
Six months post her marriage, Vijay was accused of assaulting Sandra. She filed a case with the Elamakkara Police Station, alleging that Vijay beat her and she had to be admitted to a private hospital. "A fake case has been filed against me by my most trusted partner and her husband for the sake for taking over (our) business property, which I disputed," Vijay wrote on his Facebook page hinting that a business dispute had come between the two friends.
“It's over! We will sort between our self. Issue started on a Tuesday ... Sorted on Friday! Friday film house continues .., Sandra will be my friend and partner forever. As friends, We will not forgive the so called people who tried to aggravate a small issue,” (sic) posted Vijay after a couple of days, thus letting the world know that all is well between the two friends.
But if you check the official website of Friday Film House, the chairman, founder and CEO is Vijay Babu and Sandra Babu is nowhere in the climax.
Jallikattu was the last released movie of the production house.
Meanwhile, Sandra Thomas' father Joseph Pattathanam has co-produced the Tovino-starrer 'Edakkad Battalion 06' which has just hit the screens.
Story board 4: Prithviraj- Roshni Dinaker
Prithviraj hit the headlines for the wrong reasons after director Roshni Dinaker accused the actor of delaying her film 'My Story' and causing a massive loss to her Rs 13-crore project. Roshni, who both directed and produced My Story, had shot the first schedule of the movie from November 1 to December 11, 2016, in Portugal, and revealed that she had been waiting for about 10 months for Prithviraj’s dates while he had been on a signing spree.
Roshini then alleged that Prithviraj was more keen to work with Anjali Menon directorial Koode than finishing 'My Story'. Roshini, then approached Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) and Kerala Film Producers Association (KFPA) and these bodies made sure that Prithviraj gave date for both the films.
Things turned upside down when the female lead of the movie Parvathy came in support of Prithviraj. Even though Prithviraj maintained a silence over the issue, Parvathy believed that it was her responsibility to speak up for a man, who was wronged. Along with Parvathy, Shankar Ramakrishnan, the writer of My Story, and actors Maniyanpilla Raju and Nandhu too came in support of Prithviraj. The trio asserted that Prithvi is one of the most professional artists in the industry, and the allegations are totally false.
Roshni, then slammed Parvathy and Prithviraj for not supporting her film and not joining her for the promotional works of the movie.
Roshini has been busy with the pre-production of her next film after 'My Story' and will be announcing it in a couple of days. On the other hand, Prithviraj never spoke about the movie rather he has been in complete work-mode by making his directorial debut. During the audio launch of his recent movie 'Brother's Day', he had said, “It was only after I turned into direction that I understood what a director has to go through. And the biggest challenge while making a film is that a director has to bear with artists' availability according to their dates.”
Story board 5: Omar Lulu - Ousepachan Vaalakuzhy
Director Omar Lulu's 'Oru Adaar Love' had created enough headlines right from the day of its launch until it got derailed. When its lead cast 'wink queen' Priya Prakash Warrier and her male counterpart Roshan Abdul Rahoof took over the global internet spaces after the release of the film teaser, Omar saw his moderately budgeted project slipping out of his hands.
The international attention and social media puff invited by the song 'Manikya malaraaya poovi' forced the crew to rework the existing project in such a way as to cater to the changing interests of producer and public expectations, director Omar had told Onmanorama in an exclusive interview explaining his predicament.
With wide attention, the movie could be released in Telugu and Tamil as well. While the initial storyline of the movie was about a young couple who is murdered, producers then asked Omar to make a movie in a different manner by highlighting Priya, which Omar refused to.
Omar also alleged that the producer also refused the profit share of the movie even though it was promised in the initial contracts.
Producer Ouseppachan had also reportedly filed a complaint against Omar before the Kerala Film Producers Association. The movie, which was initially shot at a total budget of Rs 3.5 crore had crossed Rs 5 crore when reworked. Ouseppachan, meanwhile, alleged that Omar refused to complete the movie within the predetermined duration, thus causing him further loss.
The movie finally hit the screens after a huge hype but failed to fetch good reviews. Omar, later on a TV show, confessed that he had a fallout with the producer and accused him of not paying his dub rights for the movie.
After 'Oru Adaar Love', Omar moved on with his next project. He wrapped up the shoot of 'Dhamaka' and is awaiting its release next month.
Story board 6: Rosshan Andrrews - Alwin Antony
It came as a shock when producer Alwin Antony raised serious charges against director Rosshan Andrrews. He alleged that Rosshan had attacked him, his family members and a doctor friend at his house at Panampilly Nagar, Ernakulam. According to Alwin, Rosshan attacked him and threatened his son Allwyn over an issue involving his son and Rosshan's female associate director.
Rosshan in his complaint to the police had stated that Alwin attacked him and his friend Nawaz as they visited Alwin’s house.
Alwin’s son Allwyn John had worked with Rosshan in his films and had been fired by the director because he allegedly indulged in substance abuse. Subsequently, Allwyn had reportedly initiated a smear campaign against Rosshan.
Both Alwin and Rosshan had approached the police with separate cases, each alleging the other of attacking them. The fight reached the Kerala Film Producers Council which tried to make the duo resolve the issue.
Two days after the flare-up, when Alwin opened his new hotel in Kochi, leading stars, including Kunchacko Boban, Nazriya Nazim, Fahadh Faasil, attended the inauguration. Alwin Antony is the father-in-law of director Alphonse Puthren who had helmed Premam and Neram.
Currently, Rosshan is directing the movie 'Prathi Poovankozhi' starring Manju Warrier in the lead. Scripted by Unni R, Rosshan is reportedly acting in the movie as well.
Story board 7: Sajeev Pillai - Venu Kunnappilly
Mamangam is one of the most-anticipated projects of superstar Mammootty in recent times. After the first schedule of the period film was over, media came to know that actor Dhruvan was suddenly removed from the cast and was replaced by Unni Mukundan. And not just Dhruvan, whose portions for the period film were even filmed, a couple of other stars were also replaced. The initially chosen director of the movie Sajeev Pillai had then said that he was unaware of the exit of his crew members.
A week after, the director himself was ousted from the project! Producer Venu Kunnappilly stated that their creative differences led to Sajeev being replaced by M Padmakumar. “We realised we couldn’t go ahead with that version and we decided it would be better to bring in a different director, someone with a lot of films under his belt. Mammootty understood what we were trying to do and stood with us,” Venu had said in an interview then.
Venu claimed that he had spent about Rs 1 crore for the project and such a huge expense came because of Sajeev. Contrary to Venu's claims, Sajeev claimed that the producer himself had hailed the script many times. But later, he wanted changes in the script. “The differences began when deciding where the second schedule should be shot. He wanted the set at his friend’s place in Ernakulam. The changes in the script he had demanded had anti-social message and I couldn't agree to that,” said Sajeev in yet another interview. Sajeev also clarified that he didn't overshoot the budget as 35 per cent of the film was finished for Rs 10 crore, and that the agreed overall project amount was Rs 30 crore.
Sajeev had approached FEFKA when he felt things were going out of hand. Though FEFKA had initially been completely supportive of him, its office-bearers seem to have had a change of mind later, and agreed with the producer that another director should be brought in.
Padmakumar reportedly had a private chat with Sajeev as he was roped in and he had assured the latter he would not interfere in his craft. But as the days went by Sajeev was asked to sign yet another agreement with FEFKA. He was asked to agree with the producer's demands and since he couldn’t agree to all those he was ousted. Producer Venu explained that the Sajeev’s version ran close to five hours and it was completely unacceptable and even Mammootty understood him in this regard.
Mamangam, now helmed by director Padmakumar, is currently in the post-production stage.
It will be released in Malayalam, Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu on November 21.