Kerala's popular social media platforms, especially Facebook, have been abuzz for the last two days, with fans of two of Mollywood's biggest superstars abusing industry's youngsters Vineeth Sreenivasan, Anna Reshma Rajan and Rima Kallingal.
The youngsters had recently made some innocuous comments about Mohanlal and Mammootty, which were blown out of proportion, thanks to fans who just can't digest the fact that the veteran actors they blindly follow are old enough to be their "fathers" and "uncles".
Vineeth found himself embroiled in a controversy after he shared a video of Mohanlal dancing to the popular Jimikki Kammal song, with the caption “Wow! Lal uncle's version of Jimikki Kammal." Die-hard Mohanlal fans raided the comment box of Vineeth's post, rebuking him and giving him strict instructions that he should address the actor as either "Lalettan" or "Sir" from now on.
What these bullies don't realise or might not want to is that Mohanlal is, in fact, Vineeth’s father Sreenivasan's friend and of around the same age, and Vineeth would have grown up calling him "uncle". What is wrong in referring to your uncle as "uncle"? At this rate it won't be long before they raise a red flag when Mohanla's son Pranav addresses him as "dad".
Anna, on the other hand, found herself in the eye of the storm for giving a smart reply to a tricky question during a recent interview. When asked if she'd prefer acting with Dulquer Salmaan or Mammootty, the Angamaly Diaries actress responded saying that she'd like to be Dulquer's heroine and Mammootty could play the role of his father.
Anna had to pay a heavy price for the now-infamous remark, with butthurt Mammootty fans flooding her social media accounts with abuses and cuss words filled with chauvinism, sexism and misogyny. The actress, unable to take the brunt of the abuse, finally broke down on a Facebook Live video on Monday, apologising to Mammootty and his fans.
Meanwhile, Rima found herself in the spotlight for defending Anna's initial comments and questioning what is wrong in Mammootty playing a 70-year-old. Needless to say, the keyboard warriors gave her almost the same treatment as they gave Anna.
It's baffling as to why Mammootty fans should consider the actor playing Dulquer's father on-screen as an insult or an offensive remark, considering that they are actually father and son. But of course, common sense has never been a bully's strong suit.
Mammootty is 66, Mohanlal is 57. Both have two adults as children and one even has grandchildren. Let that sink in. We always respect them for their illustrious career and for the avatars in which they lit up the screen, but that doesn't mean they are immortals who don't age.
It is important to note that a similar incident had happened in connection with the Tamil film industry in the recent past, with Vijay fans swearing and showering abuses on a female journalist after she gave an unfavourable review to the actor's recent film. The fans hunted her for days and launched several attacks online, which included an organised hashtag campaign on Twitter, so much so that she eventually had to file a police complaint.
Finally, Vijay came out, strongly condemning the incident and defending the journalist. And it was only after the actor asked his fans to maintain calm that the situation was brought under control.
It's high time that Malayalam superstars start doing something on the same lines when they see their fans engaging in verbal attacks on people for making a comment or a post they do not appreciate. It seems that when the actors maintain silence, the abusive fans consider it as some sort of a permission to go trigger-happy on their targets. They believe they are doing the right thing and that only by attacking and abusing the opposing voice, they can prove themselves as true, die-hard fans.
We understand that the fans have the right to criticise, just like Anna or Rima have the right to freedom of expression. However, when you assert the right to criticism, do it with courtesy. Being a fan of an actor, no matter how big they are in their respective industries, is no justification for being a cyberbully who goes on an abusing and swearing at people, often behind the comforts of a fake profile.