Malayalam actress assault case: Shame media and fans went gaga over Dileep in Dubai

For them he was a hero who could do no wrong.

 |  6-minute read |   16-12-2017
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I have been part of the media for close to four decades and, so I presume, have a right to criticise it.

Last week, I was in Dubai covering the International Film Festival, and was aghast to read the press going gaga over actor Dileep's visit to the Emirate. Nothing new, I suppose.

The Indian media has been celebrating Bollywood actor Salman Khan and was full of stories about his so-called achievements even when the man was facing legal trial after he had run over pavement dwellers in Mumbai and went on a hunting spree in Rajasthan killing endangered blackbucks. He was reportedly drunk at the wheel, and the only witness, also in the vehicle, died a mysterious death. While no one doubted that Khan was guilty on both counts, he has escaped legal punishment. At least so far.

In Dileep's case, the trial is still on, but nobody in their right senses can disagree that the Malayalam superstar has been charged with plotting a crime as heinous as rape. What is worse, Dileep is said to have hired a contract rapist to do the evil job - of sexually molesting a well-known actress in her car. It did not stop there. The whole sordid episode was videographed with the actress's engagement ring taking the pride of place in the video shots. All this happened as recently as February, just 10 months ago.

(During a chat with director Anup Singh in Dubai, he said that even his hero in his latest outing, The Song of Scorpions - with Irrfan Khan, Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani and Waheeda Rehman - indulges in a similar crime in the movie. A case of cinema being ahead of society!)

But the Malayalees in Dubai could not care less. For them Dileep was a hero who could do no wrong. There is nothing called a fallen angel in their vocabulary.

Dileep was in the Emirate with his mother, and their visit had preceded by a growing online campaign for the actor. Anybody daring to lambast Dileep was trolled, and viciously so.

And in Dubai, his supporters removed all stops. The desire to present Dileep as holier than thou was shamelessly on display in a city to which he had been rumoured to have smuggled the memory chip containing the evidence of the sexual attack.

Dileep seen with a brimming smile inaugurating the fourth branch of his restaurant – Dhe Puttu - which specialises in a mind-boggling variety of “puttu”, a popular Kerala dish. The Kerala High Court had given him permission to travel to Dubai to open the eatery.

It was reported that the Malayala Manorama’s online English edition wrote in painful detail that "he arrived at Dubai airport with his mother, was greeted by friends and gifted a shawl”.

Khaleej Times "adoringly" wrote about the mother: “Five mothers of the seven partners of Dhe Puttu cut the ceremonial ribbon to launch the restaurant” and “Dhe Puttu was opened by mothers of seven partners in Karama (a Dubai locality)”.

This for the owner of a restaurant accused of plotting to rape a co-star. The daily also had several quotes from Dubai citizens who could not care less about the case. They were happy, they said, to praise the eating joint and the delicious food it served.

I also read that Dileep and his mother went to Lulu's - a hypermarket, which has a huge outlet in Cochin, if I am right. I have been to Lulu's several times during my visits to Dubai, and it sells products somewhat better that what one finds in Carrefour Supermarket. What is pertinent here is that Lulu's is one place in the Emirate where you will run into dozens of Malayalees. Most of them are there not to shop, but to socialise with other Malayalees and be seen. And Dileep reportedly caused quite a flutter at Lulu's with people falling all over him, wanting to take selfies with him. So much so for one charged with a crime that today's India is in no mood to pardon.

What will these fans tell their grandchildren? That we took snaps with a man who was then in the dock for conspiring to rape a young actress.

One writer - who distanced herself from the flock of fans - wrote scathingly: “The media has also been eager to remind everyone that Dileep is a sensitive guy with feelings. Never mind that he paid to have a woman assaulted and has been accused of controlling the industry like Tony Soprano in a vicious mood, the real story here was that he 'turned emotional' at the house of his late friend, the mimicry artist, Abi, whose home Dileep visited in Dubai after his sudden death on 30 November."

“Manorama wrote extensively about how he 'struggled hard to hold back his tears while trying to console Abi's family members' and reminisces about the good ol’ days when Dileep and his buddy Nadirshah 'ruled stages across Kerala leaving a trail of laugh riots and genuine humour'. Never mind again that Nadirshah has been linked to the case and was one of the people Pulsar Suni (the main accused) repeatedly called from jail."

I can go on and on of how the mother and son took Dubai by storm, the woman playing to the galleries making sure that Dileep got all the accolades and sympathy from the people there in the city. And the media was cheering all of this. In Dubai, he became a media star, and as part of the press corps, I felt like hanging my head in shame.

Also read: Dileep’s arrest for actress sexual assault: The rot has been exposed


Gautaman Bhaskaran Gautaman Bhaskaran @gautamanb

The author is a writer, commentator and movie critic.

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