Popular Malayalam actor Manju Warrier is the latest target of the Sangh Parivar in Kerala. Over the past two days, her facebook page has been filled with abusive comments and even threats, over her decision to act in filmmaker Kamal’s biopic on writer Kamala Das (Madhavikutty), titled ‘Aami’.

Vidya Balan, who was earlier set to play the role, backed out of the project, five days before the shoot was to begin. There have been rumours that she backed out due to pressure from the Sangh, as they have a bone to pick with Kamal, who is also the Chairman of the Government’s film body Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, which organises the International Film Festival of Kerala. During the last IFFK in December 2016, there was a controversy over the arrest of a few festival delegates, who had refused to stand up during the National Anthem. Kamal had said that National Anthem should be respected, but the police should avoid entering the theatres and taking action.

Filmmaker Kamal

The RSS and BJP used this as an excuse to pick on him and organised protest marches to his house and started targeting him relentlessly. Calling him by his full name ‘Kamaluddeen’, which Kamal has never used and the majority in the state never knew about, they even accused him of having terrorist links. The BJP State General Secretary A.N.Radhakrishnan said that he should get out of the country.

So, when Manju Warrier announced her decision to act in his film, she naturally became a target of all the hatred. The subject of the film has also has enough to irritate the Sangh Parivar. Madhavikutty, one of Kerala’s most celebrated women writers, had through her works openly expressed female desire and sexuality, offending the powerful conservative sections in the state. In 1999, ten years before she passed away, she converted to Islam and changed her name to Kamala Surayya, causing considerable uproar in the state. It is this part of her history that offends the Sangh Parivar particularly. They see this as “Love Jihad”, the name that they have given to their fake propaganda against inter-religious marriages.

Left: Kamala Das (madhavikutty) Right: Kamala Surayya, after her conversion to Islam
Left: Kamala Das (madhavikutty), Right: Kamala Surayya, after her conversion to Islam

The attacks on Manju Warrier has concentrated on this aspect mostly. The online sangh trollers have accused Kamal of trying to convert Manju Warrier to Islam, by giving her this role. Some have warned the filmmaker and the actor against portraying this final act of her life. They ask Kamal whether he would have made a film on the writer, had she not converted. Some have said that now they understand why Manju’s real life husband, actor Dileep, left her.

“In your youth, you betrayed your parents. Later, you betrayed your husband and family for riches. Now, you have become a tool for Jihadism, under the garb of communism, and have betrayed your own Hindu community,” says one comment.

“You have now covered your head with the piece of cloth that Vidya Balan threw away after cleaning her ass. Anyway, good for you. We have to promote ‘sickularism’ even by selling our honour.”

The attacks have been relentless, so much so that the actor had to come out with a statement requesting people to see films as just films. She has maintained a rather weak, neutral stand regarding the issue, despite the vile abuses.

Incidentally, the actor had performed classical dance during the cultural events held as part of the BJP’s National Conference in Kozhikode last year.