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Malayalam film industry deadlocked by trade unions


Thiruvananthapuram : Two movie shoots have been disrupted by protests over the attitude of leading stars Mammootty and Dileep, scuffles have broken out and members of film units have even been arrested. The tussle between two rival trade unions in the Malayalam film industry seems to have entered a deadlock and neither side is ready to give in.

Trouble has been brewing in the industry ever since the Malayalam Cine Technicians Association (MACTA) split vertically last year and a new powerful group called Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA) was formed.

MACTA accuses Mammootty and Dileep of using their influence as leading actors in the industry and scuttling their projects and ensuring that its members do not get work.

On Saturday, nearly 300 members of MACTA disrupted the shoot of Dileep’s film “Bodyguard” in Palakkad. The very next day, MACTA members tried to disrupt the shooting of Mammootty’s “Daddy Cool” near Alappuzha.

MACTA includes 19 organisations which represent people associated with the industry ranging from spot boys, drivers, technicians to directors. MACTA is presently affiliated to the Communist Party of India (CPI)-led All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC).

While MACTA is led by director Vinayan and has a huge membership base, the FEFKA includes big time directors like Joshi, I.V. Sasi, Siddique, Lal, Sathyan Anthicad, Renjith and Renji Panicker. FEFKA also has the blessings of the most influential Malayalam film body – the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA).

Following the protests, Mammootty spoke to CPI Rajya Sabha member K.E. Ismail to find a solution to the issue. Ismail decided to be a mediatory and held discussions with actors Mammootty, Suresh Gopi and few others at Thiruvananthapuram. A meeting is now scheduled for Thursday to find a solution, but Vinayan said the MACTA will not attend the meet.

“A meeting of the CPI leadership and representatives of FEFKA is taking place on Thursday at the CPI headquarters. We are not taking part in that meeting and we will decide the future course of action depending on the outcome of the meeting,” Vinayan told IANS.

Vinayan asserted that MACTA would not withdraw their agitation as their members were being sidelined and not getting work.

FEFKA general secretary B. Unnikrishnan also maintained that there was no question of bowing before anyone.

“I have been asked by FEFKA and other organisations to represent our case before the CPI leadership at Thursday’s meeting. We don’t take what has happened seriously because the film industry is not an organised industry and no one can be kept out by anyone. We are happy that after discussions with the CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) and the Congress party, they have extended their support,” said Unnikrishnan, a popular director.

Veteran actor Suresh Gopi, who was instrumental in calling the meeting, said it was imperative that a solution was reached.

“The need of the hour is that better sense should prevail because trade union activism is good and has many positive aspects, but what we see now in the industry is dangerous and without any of these issues itself, our industry is going through bad times,” Suresh Gopi told IANS.

The Malayalam film industry does business worth over Rs.150 crores (Rs.1.5 billion) and more than 30,000 families are dependent on the filmdom.