Ernakulam: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s now-famous question of last week, “How’s the Josh", may not get a cheerful response if it was asked to Kerala’s film fraternity now. His Bharatiya Janata Party and mentor organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has come in the dock in Kerala on Friday for attacking a filmmaker, Priyanandanan.
Priyanandan was attacked over sharing a poster on Facebook against the BJP-Sangh Parivar’s Sabarimala agitations, said the local police. The right-wing forces in Kerala have been at the forefront of agitations to uphold a faith-bound ban for menstruating women on Sabarimala hill shrine, despite Supreme Court annulling it.
“I was at my village, Vallchira in Thrissur district, on Friday when two people came over and threw cow-dung over me and then proceeded to hit on my head," Priyanandan told television reporters. The filmmaker added that he had been facing threats over sharing the poster on Facebook which ridiculed the Sabarimala agitations. “Some people even said they will not allow any further release of his movies in Thrissur," he said. Later, he added, he had removed the poster from his Facebook feed, “realising it was foul language", but had put up another post to mark his dissent against the cyber-bullying.
The local police said it has booked a case against RSS worker Sarovar Valachira, who has since gone missing. The incident has triggered condemnation from several corners in Kerala, and has become fodder for the already charged political battle between Left and Right in the state in the backdrop of the Sabarimala controversy.
Priyanandan is seen as a critically acclaimed art-house movie director as well as a Left sympathiser. He rose through pro-Left activism and drama movements, and won the Kerala state award for best debut director his first movie in 2001, “Neythukaran" (The weaver). The movie also won the lead actor, Murali, the national award for best actor. His second movie in 2006, “Pulijanmam" (Born to be a tiger), received the national award for the best feature film. His third movie, “Sufi Paranja Katha" (The story told by Sufi) in 2010 was one of the three Indian movies selected for International Film Festival of Kerala and won four state film awards.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the incident is a sign of Sangh Parivar’s building intolerance in the state. “Priyanandan he is a well-known filmmaker and the attack against him is a sign of intolerant elements from Sangh Parivar groups raising life threats against artists. We will not promote such actions, stringent action will be taken," Vijayan told reporters. However, local BJP and RSS leader B Gopalakrishnan said the organisations have no role in the attack. “It might be an emotional response," he said to the website of regional newspaper Malayala Manorama.