Actor Prakash Raj on Tuesday clarified that he has not signed any memorandum against Mohanlal being invited as the chief guest at the upcoming Kerala State Film Awards. He said while he feels the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) was ‘insensitive’ in its decision to reinstate Dileep, he was not in favor of ‘singling out’ Mohanlal.
“There is a news going around that I have signed a memorandum against Mohanlalji attending the Kerala State Awards function. I have not signed any memorandum nor I’m aware of such memorandum. Yes, I have differences with the decision the AMMA has taken. And I have very clearly told my stance that I don’t accept it. It is insensitive to have taken such a decision,” Prakash Raj said.
Prakash Raj was said to be one of the signatories to the petition that was submitted to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan objecting his administration’s move to invite Mohanlal as the chief guest of the state-sponsored awards show. It all started when National Award-winning filmmaker Dr Biju shared the press release on his Facebook page, claiming endorsement of more than 100 members of the film fraternity against making an actor, whose work was also in the fray for the awards, as the chief guest of the function.
Biju’s petition to the government came just days after the filmmaker said he will skip the awards show if Mohanlal was made its chief guest.
Not just Prakash Raj, cinematographer Santosh Thundiyil also put out a statement on Tuesday rubbished reports that suggested he was also against Mohanlal attending the film event.
“How can somebody think of avoiding Mohanlal by writing a memorandum..isn’t it insane, foolish..? I have not signed or written anything against Mohanlal attending the award ceremony. Its being projected like I had made a statement or signed a letter requesting to avoid him from a function(sic),” he said in his Facebook page.
“The fact of the matter is that I have received a whats app message regarding the conduct of state award function and the format of the function for which I said yes, but in the message, Mohanlal’s name was not mentioned at all.. if it was the case I would not have said yes. I feel cheated at this moment.. if it was a game plan against Mohanlal? (sic),” he added.
Terming Mohanlal as a ‘national monument’, Santosh said he will consider it as a ‘blessing’ to have the Pulimurugan star on stage.
Oscar-winning sound designer Resul Pookutty also shared his two cents on the controversy. He took to Fabecook and wrote, “Now that a lot of people asking me about some of my friends in the Industry has released a signed press statement about how state awards to be distributed, I think I should express what I feel about the subject and why I refused to sign the statement along with them…While I agree with the first part of the submission, that State Awards be distributed by the Hon. Chief Minister, I strongly disagree with the second part of their argument…. I cannot be a part of a group that asks people to stay away from a function like the State Award. Whoever is invited as a chief guest is part of the larger spectrum of cinema, mainstream or Independent… There is no reason why an Independent filmmaker should feel inferior to a mainstream filmmaker or an actor…! Because “xyz” work or is a part of the mainstream cinema is not a disqualification… I don’t see inviting them is a great cultural problem, I have immense respect and adulation for all our mainstream stars and technicians, directors, writers, singers and composers. It is their work that attracted me to the magic of Silver Screen and became what I have become. The view that inviting a bigger star is going to destroy the sanctity of the State Award is a mere fear stemmed out of a structured thinking. Please understand it is the mainstream cinema that sustains the business of cinema. What makes you a bigger and better torchbearer of “good cinema” by asking an elected government to stay away from inviting the very people who sweat out in the business of cinema -whether you agree with the cinema they make or not. In fact, it would be more inclusive if we see everyone at one level of craft and practice and in one platform of the State rather in a paid show of private channels! In IFFI’s opening and closing ceremony, they invite and celebrate Industry stalwarts… It has never put down the quality of world cinema it showcases or our association with good cinema. It is actually this attitude of Independent cinema’s so-called torch bearers that makes me feel that they feel “immini balya Onnu” as Basheer calls it! I don’t think Adoor Sir who is the only living legend of India’s Independent cinema will ever take a stand like this…So my friends please grow up!”