The case of the abduction and molestation of a leading Malayalam actress last February is turning curiouser and curiouser. The case, which was moribund ever since Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan congratulated his police for doing a “wonderful job” in catching the so called culprit Sunil Kumar, alias “Pulsar” Sunil, and emphatically ruling out a conspiracy theory behind the attack, is back in the news to haunt some. In this high-voltage case, the storyline revolves around a popular film actor, who was never named by anyone, including the police or the victim, in the so-called conspiracy theory.

But for some strange reason, the general perception is that the actor Dileep had a certain role in the sordid drama. So the story has become all the more intriguing with the actor himself coming out in the public to “exonerate” himself in a case where officially he is not named as a party. And it is Dileep who is now spinning a conspiracy theory, pointing fingers at others in Malayalam filmdom. Like in a play, new, new characters are flitting in and out on a daily basis. The public is at a loss to gauge between the real and reel, with the police playing a spoilsport by keeping on changing the plate.

As Dileep and some of his friends slug it out, mostly on social media, many questions remain unanswered. Churning out conspiracy theory within conspiracy theory is gaining ground. The first theory is that why did Sunil Kumar and his four accomplices abduct the actress and molest her. It is still not proved whether the intention was to blackmail her. Second is Sunil’s confession to the victim that he was abducting her under someone else’s directive and that his was just a quotation job. This is where Dileep had come into the picture. The third is the allegation by Dileep that some others in the Malayalam film industry are trying to frame him and ruin his film career. In the midst of all these is his divorce with a popular actress after almost two decades of marriage and his remarriage with another actress. His first wife Manju Warrier, who is said to be close to the victim, was in fact the first to float the conspiracy theory.

The police, which claimed the arrest of Suni—in fact he was caught when he came to the court to surrender—did not do anything further. With the CM also informing the state Assembly that the case was over with the arrest of Suni, a general impression was created that the accused himself plotted and implemented the abduction and further molestation. However, the general public continued to disbelieve the police version that it was a one-man job and firmly believed that some others were behind the ghastly crime. The continued silence on the part of some leading film personalities added spice to the possibility theories. It was at this time that Dileep announced that he had made a fresh complaint with the police on the basis of which, Dileep claimed, the police had reopened investigation into the case. However, the police denied they reopened the case as the investigation was still continuing. But on the light of Dileep’s complaint, or so the police claimed, Dileep and his friend and film director Nadir Shah were subjected to more than 13 hours of interrogation last week, at the end of which they were reportedly released at the behest of higher-ups, meaning political masters, from state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

The general public continued to disbelieve the police version that the abduction of the actress was a one-man job and firmly believed that some others were behind the ghastly crime. 

This is where the role of the Association of Malayalam Film Artistes (AMMA), the powerful body of cine-artistes came under public scrutiny. Except for shedding copious tears the day after the actress was attacked, not a single prominent member of the body has come out with a statement. And it so happened that AMMA was having its general body meeting in Kochi the day Dileep was questioned by the police. While Dileep is treasurer of the organisation, the victim is an ordinary member. Apparently, there was no discussion about the matter at the meeting. When journalists questioned AMMA executive members about this, two of them lost their cool and shouted at the media for its trial of Dileep and said by all means the organisation would defend him. This gave the impression that the organisation was with Dileep and not the victim.

The interesting part of it is that the two, Mukesh and Ganesh Kumar, are sitting MLAs, with the former fielded by ruling CPM, while the latter was supported by the ruling Left Democratic Front in the elections. To top it all, AMMA’s long time president Innocent is a sitting MP from Chalakudi, who too won with the support of LDF. Superstar Mammooty, who is the secretary of the organisation, is also chairman of Kairali TV, considered a CPM channel run by the media advisor of CM Pinarayi Vijayan. This has given a political twist to the ongoing drama. But now under pressure, the CM, who had said the case was a closed one, has changed the tune, saying “no fish, however big, will be allowed to escape.” The Congress and the BJP are demanding a CBI probe into the case.

The role of the newly formed “Women Collective in Cinema”, a body of women artistes of the Malayalam film industry, too is under public scrutiny. The formation of this body itself is considered an offshoot of the attack on the actress and was initiated by, among others, Manju Warrrier, the former wife of Dileep. They still haven’t showed the courage to stand up to the patriarchy of AMMA.

Meanwhile, nobody knows what the climax will be like. But it will definitely be a blockbuster.

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