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It could be the biggest issue that has rocked Malayalam cinema in recent times. Battle lines have been drawn in Malayalam filmdom with the technicians' association, MACTA [Malayalam Cine Technicians Association Federation], splitting in two. With almost every member from the fraternity divided into two camps, real actions have been worse than the reel ones.
The whole issue began when actor Dileep walked out of a project titled Kuttananadan Express, which was to be directed by director Tulasidas. The film was to be produced by Ullattil films. Tulasidas was ousted from the project with Dipu Karunakaran as his replacement. Stung with the move, Tulasidas accused Dileep of accepting an advance for acting in the project. Tulasidas further said that the reason for his ouster was due to the failure of his latest venture College Kumaran at the Box Office.
The controversy reached the technicians' forum, MACTA Federation and they promptly decided to ban the hero. The actors' group, AMMA [Association of Malayalam Movie artistes] soon came in support of Dileep and the battle was on.
The twist in the tale
Soon after a MACTA directors' meeting, director Siddique cried foul about certain remarks made by general secretary Vinayan. The interesting aspect here is that Dileep's next project, Bodyguard is to be directed by Siddique. He resigned from MACTA and this became a major issue when almost all the top line directors including Fazil, Sathyan Anthikkad, Kamal, Rafi-Mecartin, Shafi, Lal Jose, Ranjith, Joshiy and Siby Malayil decided to quit from the organisation in support of Siddique.
This was perhaps a welcome chance for the directors, who were never in good terms with the mighty Vinayan, the general secretary of MACTA. Vinayan got the post after he won a closely fought election some time back, mainly with the support of the 'low profile' technicians. For the often neglected technicians, he has always been a great pillar of support.
The two factions started their meetings separately and sparks began to fly. Some of the comments made by actor-director Sreenivasan on assistant directors were controversial. Sreenivasan later denied making those comments.
Meanwhile, the all powerful organisations of the film technicians FEFSI and AIFEC have offered their support for Vinayan's MACTA Federation.
Right now, a new organisation has come into force consisting of the directors who resigned from MACTA and the technicians who supported them. The new body has the full support of the AMMA and the Producers' Association.
At the new body's first meeting almost everyone -- from the directors to the actors and producers -- attacked Vinayan for his autocratic ways. But the members remain unclear on the agenda of the new version of technicians' forum.
No one really knows what is going to happen next. The newly formed group says that they don't need any support to make films. Whether a solution will be reached remains to be seen.
Already weakened by the poor show of recent releases at the Box Office, it looks like there is more trouble in store for the Malayalam film industry as the focus shifts from screens to street fights.
What is sad about all this hullabaloo is that there are no talks about improving the quality of Malayalam films. That is perhaps the biggest problem.
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