Kerala trolls hand actress 'father' of lessons

A woman may be as old as her birth certificate says but a man, if he happens to be a Malayalam movie star, is as young as his fans feel he is.

  • Published 3.10.17

Oct. 2: A woman may be as old as her birth certificate says but a man, if he happens to be a Malayalam movie star, is as young as his fans feel he is.

So has rookie actress Anna Rajan learnt after a light-hearted answer to an interviewer's question, which alluded to the age of leading actor Mammootty, 65, triggered an avalanche of trolling and forced her into a tearful public apology.

As though to underline the message, the young actor-director-singer Vineeth Sreenivasan got ripped apart on social media the same day for referring to Mammootty's fellow Malayalam superstar Mohanlal, 57 - whom he has known since childhood - as "uncle".

Anna had been asked the sort of flippant question that is a staple of television interviews: "If you are offered roles opposite both Mammootty and Dulquer, whom would you opt for?"

Dulquer Salman, 31, is Mammootty's son and an actor.

A smiling Anna, who had debuted in films this year with the box-office hit Angamaly Diaries, quipped that she would choose Dulquer, and Mammootty could play the father.

This was enough to raise the hackles of fans who prefer to call their hero "Mammookka" - just as Mohanlal devotees refer to him as "Lalettan" - the " ikka" and "ettan" suffixes denoting elder brother, much like " da" in Bengal.

That Anna had acted opposite Mohanlal in her second film, Velipadinte Pusthakam (Book of Revelation), led some to conclude that she had deliberately belittled her co-star's rival.

Faced with relentless trolling, a sobbing Anna went live on Facebook last Monday to apologise to Mammootty and his "hurt" fans and declare that she would never reach the heights achieved by Mammootty or Dulquer.

The next day, she announced that Mammootty had called her to say she mustn't worry about the trolls.

"Mammookka called!! Spoke... I just need the confidence given by his words to face any situation," Anna wrote on her Facebook page.

So far, though, the lone industry colleague to publicly support her has been the young actress Rima Kallingal.

"Lichi (the name of Anna's character in her debut film) was trolled for saying a 65-year-old actor could play her father's role? Why??" Rima posted on Facebook.

"These people don't think Mammootty can carry (off) that role?? I think he can rock it.. like a boss.. remember Kauravar?" she added, referring to a 1992 film where a then 40-year-old Mammootty had played father to a late-teen girl.

Vineeth, 31, had referred to Mohanlal as "uncle" while thanking him for uploading a video featuring the star himself gyrating to the young singer's latest hit, Jimikki Kammal (Earrings).

Although the song appears in Mohanlal's latest release, Velipadinte Pusthakam - which pairs him opposite Anna - it does not feature him in the movie. The video was Mohanlal's independent version of the song and attracted 9.2 million views on Facebook within the first four days after being posted last Sunday.

"Wowwww!!! Lal uncle's version of Jimikki Kammal," a grateful Vineeth tweeted, inviting attacks from outraged posters who insisted he should have addressed the superstar as "Lalettan" instead.

Mohanlal happens to be a friend of Vineeth's father, the veteran actor-screenwriter Sreenivasan who appeared in several films alongside the superstar.

Vineeth might take solace from his song drawing appreciation from unexpected quarters, including American TV show host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel.

When someone tagged Kimmel to the song asking if he knew about the track, whose title resembles his name, Kimmel replied: "Not until now, but I love it."