Kerala

Police to enquire into Manju Warrier’s complaint against director Shrikumar Menon

File photo: Manju Warrier

File photo: Manju Warrier   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

'Asuran' actor has accused the 'Odiyan' filmmaker of orchestrating a social media campaign to smear her

The Kerala police will open a preliminary enquiry into actor Manju Warrier’s complaint that her estranged business partner and film director Shrikumar Menon posed a grave threat to her life, reputation and financial security.

State Police Chief Loknath Behera is likely to hand over the enquiry to a ranking officer given the severe nature of the allegations, according to top officials.

Ms. Warrier's charge against Mr. Menon has assumed some measure of gravity given the social focus on the allegedly implicit gender bias in the Malayalam cinema industry.

A set of actors had in 2017 formed an action group, Women in Cinema Collective, to battle purported gender bias in the industry, including hiring and wage discrimination and sexual harassment at the workplace.

Mr. Menon, who is now under a harsh spotlight, had directed Ms. Warrier's most recent film starring Mohan Lal, Odiyan.

The actor has accused the director of having abused her verbally on the sets and during various stages of production, promotion and release of the movie. She said Mr. Menon's behaviour had caused her extreme mental distress.

Ms. Warrier also accused Mr. Menon of having orchestrated a social media “smear to defame her and hound her out of the film industry”.

She said the charitable body which she had founded in 2013, Manju Warrier Foundation, lay at the heart of her dispute with Mr. Menon.

The foundation had struck an agreement with PUSH, a firm owned by Mr. Menon, to undertake philanthropic work.

However, the foundation terminated the contract in 2017 with PUSH, irking Mr. Menon who received a regular commission as per the compact. Ms. Warrier said she was constrained to terminate the arrangement unilaterally after some irreconcilable differences of opinion cropped up between them.

Ms. Warrier said that she had handed over signed blank papers, cheques and other financial documents to Mr. Menon to do the foundation's work. She feared that Mr. Menon could misuse the materials to ruin her financially and sought their immediate return.

The actor also submitted an audio clipping, possibly of a mobile phone conversation, which investigators said might hold incriminating evidence if proven to be authentic and untampered.

Mr. Warrier had alleged in her petition that Mr. Menon's purported action tantamounts to outraging the modesty of women, criminal defamation and violation of the IT Act.

Sreekumar Menon’s response

Meanwhile, Mr. Menon has responded, through his Facebook page, to the news of Ms. Warrier complaining against him to Behera.

In his Facebook post, Shrikumar Menon alleged that Ms. Warrier had forgotten all the help from him on her return to Malayalam cinema after a long gap. “You had told me that you had only ₹1,500 in your bank when you left your home,” he said. “When I had given you a cheque of ₹25 lakh towards the advance payment of our first advertisement, you had wept saying that I was the messenger that god sent to you.”

He further said that he had been warned Ms. Warrier’s close friends that she was not trustworthy. “Many prominent people became my enemies because of you,” he said. “I have come to know about the police only through the media reports. I will cooperate with the investigation fully.”

Besides the television ads, which heralded Ms. Warrier’s return to films, the duo had worked together for Odiyan, which failed to live up to the huge expectations it had generated.

Ms. Warrier’s first Tamil film Asuran was released earlier this month.

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Printable version | Jun 7, 2020 4:59:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/police-to-enquire-into-malayalam-actor-manju-warriers-complaint-against-director/article29766166.ece

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