IFFK row: Salim Kumar was invited to the inaugural, but he kept away, says Kamal

Chalachitra Academy chairman Kamal, actor Salim Kumar
Chalachitra Academy chairman Kamal, actor Salim Kumar

Ernakulam: The 25th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) is now in its second phase though a row over sidelining actor Salim Kumar over his apparent political affinity has cast a shadow over the event's round being held in Ernakulam.

Chalachitra Academy chairman Kamal alleged that Salim Kumar's decision to stay away from the film fest was politically motivated, while pointing out that he had personally called the actor to clear the air. Kamal also said that he had invited noted filmmaker Shaji N Karun several times and that he probably does not remember.

Salim Kumar, a National Award-winning actor, and Shaji N Karun, a former Chalachitra Academy chairman, were reportedly not invited to the inaugural event of the Ernakulam session by the organisers.

Salim Kumar had alleged that he was excluded from the list of 24 award-winners to be invited for the inaugural ceremony due to political reasons. After the controversy erupted, the organisers had invited him but he said he would not go.

“I was invited at the last minute. But I had said earlier itself that I would not take part in the fest. I would be deceiving those who backed me If I change that stance," Salim Kumar, an avowed backer of the Congress, said.

But Kamal said that he had directly called Salim Kumar but he declined the invitation.

"Salim Kumar's allegations are wrong. Even after clarifications, he does not seem to understand. There is nothing more to be done.

"Shaji N Karun was not kept away from the fest. I called him several times. Six emails were also sent. Probably he does not remember," Kamal claimed.

Meanwile, as a mark of protest over not inviting Salim Kumar, some delegates arrived for the fest, wearing badges with the popular actor's photo.

The fest was inaugurated on February 10 by the Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan in Thiruvananthapuram. In a first, the IFFK is being held this year in four different venues in the state owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thalassery and Palakkad are the other two venues.

The initial phase which was held in the Kerala capital concluded on February 14 and the one at Ernakulam had commenced the 

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