Getting offended seems to be the mood of the year and this week, we have yet another handful of online abuse casualties. Actor Parvathy and actor-director Roopesh Peethambaran were dragged down a filthy drainage of abuse by star admirers after their opinions did not go down well with the fans. Glorious fans went off on a tangent as they shamelessly tried to bring down anyone who pointed a finger at ‘great stars’ or their characters.
Looks like our actors have taken a cue from other film industries to build around them a strong wall of dim-witted fans, but what they comfortably ignored is how their Kollywood counterparts came forward to condemn the behaviour of their fans when they went overboard. While actor Vijay apologised for the way his fans misbehaved to a journalist, actor Ajith announced that he was distancing himself from his fan clubs.
When the star fans went all out against Roopesh and Parvathy – the former for praising the original Kannada movie based on which Nivin Pauly’s Richie was made and the latter —for commenting on Mammootty’s character in Kasaba — all hell broke loose as vicious trolls and personal attacks filled social media. However, the stars on whose name the ugly war was fought stayed tight-lipped. What is stopping them from controlling their fans? Are they oblivious to the showdown by fans associations – the Frankenstein army they have created? Actor-director Balachandra Menon states that he is dead against the very idea of a fan’s association.
“First of all, I am a person who was blessed to sell success by becoming a brand myself. It was a time even Mammootty and Mohanlal wanted to be part of a Balachandra Menon film. In those days, a lot of people came forward to create a fan’s association in my name. But I discouraged them saying that for an artist, it’s not just fans clubs that matter, but the whole universe. It is pointless when some people form a ‘Balachandra Menon Fans Club.”
“If performing paal abhishekam and throwing currency notes and flowers in the air in cinemas, is the language of a fans’ association, what about the other fans who come to theatre with their family to watch the movie and applaud? One should not consider the latter weak just because they do not perform rituals or dance around in the theatre. As far as an artist is concerned, he will exist only based on his merit and his association with the masses, instead of forming an association to create masses. Having 100 fans’ association doesn’t help a movie run successfully. Rather than considering them as fans I would consider them as spokespersons of a movie. A fan will be fanatic and there is all probability for his fanaticism taking over him.”
Fans’ association, according to film critic V.K. Joseph, has turned into a social issue in Kerala. “Creation of fans and fan clubs itself is alien to Keralites. We used to mock Tamilians for the same. But right now, we are much ahead of them when it comes to craziness over a star. Their attitude is such that they are ready to take on anyone who expresses a view that is against theirs. These fans’ associations are created and supported by the respective actors. If someone defends with the statement that the associations are formed by admirers awed by the talent of the stars, I have a question to them. Why are there no fans associations for female actors?”
“These associations celebrate patriarchy in the film industry. If it is a political party, the party would intervene at some point when it finds the followers going overboard about something. But when it comes to fans, even when they speak like hooligans and lash out at women and critics online, the stars remain silent. Why is that so? Clearly, they need to come forward and either ask fans to exercise restraint or distance themselves from the fan frenzy,” Joseph adds.
The fans, however, are not in a mood to apologise or even accept their obnoxious behavior. Vallakkadavu Nisam, former state general secretary of All Kerala Mammootty Fans and Welfare Association, believes that the fans’ responses were in a sensible manner with nothing going out of hand. “Fans, especially the ones part of the association, have never hurled abuses at Parvathy even though her comments were directed at Mammookka. Anyone who commented or trolled her in a vicious manner might have wanted to put the blame on fans,” he says.
Nisam also feels that the mega star need not respond to the furore in social media. “If a star of Mammooka’s stature starts responding to every controversy happening in his name, will he have time for anything else?” he asks. He also has a theory as to why Mammootty doesn’t issue a statement or respond to the ugly turn of events. “He knows his fans won’t go wild over a petty issue.”...