A controversy has erupted over the alleged exclusion of senior actor Salim Kumar from the inaugural ceremony of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK).
Salim Kumar said he was not invited to the function, to be held in Kochi on Tuesday, as he is a Congress supporter. He said he was told that he was excluded from the function due to his age, however, the political motive behind the move was evident.
The IFFK, usually held in Thiruvananthapuram, is being held in four regions this year due to the ongoing Covid situation. The festival in Kochi is scheduled to be inaugurated by 25 award winning film personalities based in Kochi. The name of Salim Kumar was not in the list despite being a winner of the national and state award for best actor.
"I was told that I will not be invited to the function due to my age. I'm not 90. I'm only a couple of years senior to filmmakers Amal Neerad and Anwar Rasheed who have been invited," Salim Kumar told Manorama News. He said it was for anyone to see that he was being excluded due to his political allegiance.
"It's a festival of CPM partisans. I'm a Congress supporter and I will remain so until my death," he said.
He said after it became a news, he was contacted by the organisers asking if he could attend the function. "Why should I go there now. Those who wanted me to stay away from the function are under the impression that they have won now. I don't want to spoil their happiness," he said.
No fest without Salim Kumar: Kamal
State Chalachithra Academy chairman and film-maker Kamal refuted the allegation that there was political interests behind not inviting Salim Kumar. He said a film festival will not be held in Kochi without Salim Kumar. His complaints will be redressed, he said.
Salim Kumar, 51, won the National Film Award for Best Actor in 2010 for his role in Adaminte Makan Abu. He won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Story for Karutha Joothan which he directed in 2017. He also won the Kerala State Film Award for Second Best Actor for Achanurangatha Veedu (2005) and a Kerala State Television Award for Best Actor (2013).
Salim Kumar is one of the few film Malayalam personalities who have declared their allegiance to the Congress. He has been active on the campaign front for the party in recent elections.