mohanlal and shweta menon

The Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA), an association of Malayalam actors, usually makes headlines for two reasons — one for the glittery star-studded tea parties they hold in the name of annual general meetings and another for the controversies which include their lenient attitude towards Dileep who was the eighth accused in a sexual assault case involving a popular actress. The latter issue saw several young female actors openly come out against AMMA’s stand on the sexual assault case. The protest started by actors Rima Kallingal, Parvathy and Padmapriya against AMMA exposed the toxic patriarchal culture in the association, which even resulted in a women’s collective known as the Women in Cinema Collective. Since then, AMMA has been forced by the public and media to be more democratic, gender sensitive and abide by norms formulated for women’s safety in the workplace.

Following AMMA’s decision to reinstate Dileep into the association after their initial decision to expel the accused actor, a lot of criticism was directed at the undemocratic functioning of the association. The absence of a proper electoral system to determine the governing members of the association since its formation in 1997 was a major cause of concern. Following the mounting pressure from the media, Innocent stepped down from the president’s post after occupying the position for 17 years and handed over the responsibility to Mohanlal. A namesake election was held in 2018 in which every position was filled without opposition by members nominated by the likes of Mohanlal, Edavela Babu, Innocent, KB Ganeshkumar Siddique, Mukesh etc. Actor Parvathy was reportedly denied permission to contest in the 2018 election and her nomination was rejected by the then governing body, citing a reason from the association’s bylaw.

Again in 2021, Mohanlal, Edavela Babu, Siddique and Jayasurya were elected without opposition for the president, general secretary, treasurer and joint secretary posts respectively earlier this month. However, the only key position which was up for grabs was the vice president’s post for which actors Maniyan Pilla Raju, Shwetha Menon and Asha Sharath contested. While Maniyan Pilla and Shwetha Menon were elected, Asha Sharath lost in the election where 316 AMMA members cast their votes for the first time.

Mohanlal reportedly campaigned for Shwetha Menon and Asha Sharath despite Manian Pilla being a friend.

Baburaj, Lal, Lena, Manju Pillai, Rachana Narayanankutty, Sudhir Karamana, Surabhi Lekshmi, Tini Tom, Tovino Thomas, Unni Mukundan and Vijay Babu were elected to the executive committee of AMMA. Nivin Pauly, Honey Rose and Nasser Latif who also contested for the executive committee failed to secure enough votes.

By William Regal

Used to think I was a tad indecisive, but now I’m not quite sure.

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