Monday, 30th October 2017

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Fresh turmoil in Kerala cinema

Superstar versus filmmaker

By K.M. Rakesh in Bangalore
  • Published 23.10.19, 2:02 AM
  • Updated 23.10.19, 2:02 AM
  • 2 mins read
Manju Warrier (Wikimedia Commons)

Manju Warrier, the Malayalam actress who made a dream comeback after a long marriage-linked break and is now known as the sole “lady superstar” in Kerala, has lodged a police complaint against filmmaker V.A. Shrikumar Menon.

The star has accused him of embezzlement and spreading canards about her through social media.

The popular film star met Kerala police chief Loknath Behera to submit a handwritten complaint where she said Menon encashed cheques she had signed for her Manju Warrier Foundation.

Manju also said she feared for her life.

Menon’s advertising agency, Push Integrated Communications, had earlier worked for the Foundation that had promised to build homes for some tribal families.

Behera told reporters he had initiated action based on the complaint. “Let me talk to my legal adviser. We will take action, definitely,” he said.

The officer later assigned a police cell under him to conduct a preliminary probe before registering a case.

Manju, an accomplished classical dancer, was earlier known to be close to Menon, who had cast her in a jewellery ad series that also featured Amitabh Bachchan. The actress had played the lead role opposite Mohanlal in Menon’s maiden film Odiyan, which flopped.

According to an industry source, the friendship turned sour after Menon blamed Manju for the failure of the film that released last year.

Menon had even said that Manju landed her lead role in Odiyan because of “her luck from (her) previous life”.

Manju accused Menon of defaming her with the help of Mathew Samuel, the editor of the web portal Narada News.

The allusion was to a report that Narada News had carried recently about Manju’s Foundation not keeping its promise of permanent homes to the tribal families.

The actress, in her complaint, also blamed Menon for the vicious trolling she faced after the failure of Odiyan.

Manju has sent separate complains to two industry bodies — the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) and the Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA).

Menon has reacted to the complaint with an emotional clarification on Facebook, saying he had all along stood by Manju. “Despite standing for you, albeit all kinds of threats, you have defeated me,” he wrote early on Tuesday.

“You know how many times your friends and relatives told me that you have the habit of dumping people who come to your help.”

Menon sought to highlight how he had helped her after she walked out on Dileep, her former husband, one of the most bankable actors of the Malayalam film industry now embroiled in a case for plotting an assault on an actress.

“When you walked out of your home you were worried that you had just Rs 1,500 in your bank account. When I handed over a cheque of Rs 25 lakh as an advance for an ad film, I recall you having said that god had sent an angel in the form of Shrikumar Menon. You have forgotten that,” he wrote in the post.

He also spoke about his friendship with Samuel. “Yes, Mathew Samuel has been a friend of mine since a long time,” he said. “Why is our friendship bothering you?”

Edavela Babu, general secretary, AMMA, said Manju had the industry body’s “full support”, but it wouldn’t get involved in the case.

FEFKA general secretary B. Unnikrishnan said Menon was not a member of the organisation.