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Will Dileep single-handedly end Kerala’s patriarchy?

The whole case has blazed across the state like a long-running soap. Everything about it is shocking. An actress molested, an actor accused of master-minding the attack…

January 15, 2022 / 08:00 AM IST
Actor sexual assault case: Earlier this week, Dileep approached the Kerala High Court for anticipatory bail. (Image credit: Photo tweeted by @ANI)

Actor sexual assault case: Earlier this week, Dileep approached the Kerala High Court for anticipatory bail. (Image credit: Photo tweeted by @ANI)

Actor Dileep whose comic timing has kept Kerala in splits for years is now being seen as the villain of the story. This new twist in the plot has occurred despite an entire audience’s dogged reluctance to read the script. Neither allegations of a serious crime against a woman, nor a brief jail stint were enough to shunt a male matinee idol from his super-hero status. Not on this state’s watch. So he was back. In a new movie and on a magazine cover. And it was business as usual for the star and his fans – almost.

A slow subterranean movement had already begun. A new type of films was here, realistic and less bombastic, looking at how things are for everyone, even women. A state-wide acknowledgement of the deeply embedded bro code, which translates into disrespect for an entire gender, had begun too. You heard as if an army muttered; and the muttering grew to a grumbling; and the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling, until the average Malayali turned into a Pied Piper of his/her own.

The whole case has blazed across the state like a long-running soap. Everything about it is shocking. An actress molested, an actor accused of master-minding the attack, claims of ‘quotations’ (advance payment to goons) and videos… The silence of powerful persons and organisations did not go unnoticed. The whole truth and nothing but the truth is by now a casualty – the common man will never be privy to the hustle behind the scenes. But glimmers of hope started to arrive unexpectedly.

First, the magazine cover. A women’s magazine popular across households went unread in an act of secret sisterhood. The actor’s latest movie may have got an OTT release but people were proud to say they had not watched it and never would. All covert actions by the actor to get back on the main stage were being blocked surreptitiously when an old friend began to flashback. Followed by the survivor’s social media statement, which even the two top Ms of Malayalam cinema, Mohanlal and Mammootty, endorsed.

With Meesa Madhavan’s moustache now in grave danger, men who previously supported him are busy clearing their throat. The car chase of the last scene is about to begin or perhaps has already begun. Screeching of brakes and toppling of fruit carts mid-street to follow. Statements will be scrutinised, new evidence examined, media will hound and, hopefully, some of the truth will prevail.

Close

Great hope is being placed on the new audio recordings and their potential to turn the case. Some feel the climax scene is in sight at last, where money and masculinity may not be enough to win the good fight. Whether Dileep, who has already applied for anticipatory bail, comes out unscathed, this case goes beyond any innocence of his. It even surpasses possible conspiracies by the powerful, pointing now only at male entitlement. This is man Vs. woman.

A quotation has perhaps just been given to bump off the misogynist image of an entire state.

Also read: 'I'm not alone in fight for justice': Actor Dileep case sexual assault survivor speaks out
Shinie Antony is a writer and editor based in Bangalore. Her books include The Girl Who Couldn't Love, Barefoot and Pregnant, Planet Polygamous, and the anthologies Why We Don’t Talk, An Unsuitable Woman, Boo. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Asia Prize for her story A Dog’s Death in 2003, she is the co-founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival and director of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival.
first published: Jan 15, 2022 07:53 am

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