Mammootty Fans Troll Film Critic Anna Vatticad For Recent Review; She Says “I’m More Determined Now”

As movies increasingly become propaganda tools and as fandoms become increasingly toxic, Anna Vetticad's words underline the importance of continuing to speak up, even if through negative movie reviews.

As movies increasingly become propaganda tools and as fandoms become increasingly toxic, Anna Vetticad’s words underline the importance of continuing to speak up, even if through negative movie reviews.

Ganagandharvan, a Malayalam movie starring Mammootty in the lead role, is about a ganamela singer who is falsely accused of sexual harassment. Anna Vetticad, who has been writing about movies for a long time, and who is known for her sharp, clear reviews, reviewed the film, giving it a 0.25 rating out of 5.

In her review, she wrote, “the patriarchal, anti-feminist, misogynistic messaging of Ganagandharvan is the primary purpose of its existence.” Drawing parallels to Section 375, starring Akshaye Khanna and Richa Chadha as opposing lawyers in a courtroom drama that also toys with the idea of false accusations, she additionally wrote, “such films are a backlash against the increasingly vocal nature of contemporary feminism which has the benefit of platforms such as the social media that were not available to earlier generations of rights warriors.”

Abusive Mammootty fans

This was enough to anger the legion of abusive Mammootty fans, who felt it was their moral duty to attack her for the same. Anna, however, is a seasoned journalist, for whom such abuse is not new. I still remember her fabulous review of Baahubali and the attacks on her for the same. Mammooty fans, in particular, have hounded her for years now. And not just her –this toxic fandom is known to abuse anyone who dares to call out their beloved megastar for his roles that glorify misogyny and patriarchy.

Speaking to Sowmya Rajendran, in The News Minute, Anna recently opened up about the same.

Sharing the link to the interview on Twitter, she wrote, “Speaking up against trolling is exhausting. Sometimes you wonder, what’s the point? But well,what’s the point of silence? After 2years of non-stop abuse by #Mammootty fans, from 2017 to #Ganagandharvan, I spoke to @thenewsminute’s @sowmya_rajen about it.” She also shared screenshots of abuse she received from one particular fan who had been consistently attacking her since 2017, tweeting, “this is how creepy, disgusting, persistent and obsessive they get.”

Common to all fans of actors playing toxic roles

In the interview she noted that while the fans of some stars reacted to her feminist takes, the fans of other stars took offense to her pointing out that their movies peddled propaganda.

For example, while Akshay Kumar fans showered her with communal abuse, Mammooty fans were predictably misogynistic. Furthermore, she spoke about how asking the actors to speak up was useless, because they never stepped in to reign in their fans, as to do so would damage the image they had built up of themselves in the eyes of these fans. The toxic fandom was thus nurtured by the stars.

However, she said that the trolling has only made her more determined to speak up and call out propaganda in her reviews.

Other reviewers too similarly targeted by misogynist fans

Anna is certainly not the only female reviewer to be targeted.

Earlier this year, Sucharita Tyagi had received a barrage of abuse for calling out Kabir Singh for glorifying toxic masculinity. A look at the comments under this review of Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, a film by Luv Ranjan (a director famous for his misogynistic movies, who has been accused of sexual harassment), are indicative of the mildest sort of abuse received by female film critics when they choose to review a movie from a feminist perspective.

Closer to home, I watched with horror as a dear friend who I look up to, received rape and death threats for a review of a popular Bollywood movie on this very platform earlier this year (I am not linking the review here, nor mentioning the film or the name of my friend, because I do not want to create even the slimmest chance of dredging up that again for her).

I myself have been writing about films, TV, and pop culture in general for the past few months. I do not have the reach or the popularity of Anna or Sucharita, nor have I received the sort of extreme abuse that they do. However, even I am not immune to receiving reactions that disproportional to the content of my posts.

To be clear, I am not talking about comments that simply disagree or speak of a different POV. I am talking about comments that are of a more personal nature that question, among other things, my intelligence or my integrity.

Initially, it surprised me every time that people cared so much about one person’s negative opinion about someone they idolized. Now I have come to expect it.

Celebrity voices that make a difference

I used to avoid ‘celebrity news’ as I believed it was frivolous. Over these past few months, however, I have come to realize a few things.

Firstly, that there are a rare few celebrities who truly stand up for kindness and humanity. Second, that there is a danger to holding up any of celebrity as a symbol of feminism, or of any kind of progressive values, because one never knows when they may change their colours to match populist views. So I walk a tightrope, balancing my appreciation for their doing something good with my attempts to not portray them as the ultimate “role models.”

Cinema is increasingly being used as a propaganda tool, with regressive, misogynistic, or communal messages piggybacking onto seemingly ‘progressive’ or ‘patriotic’ movies. As the careers of celebrities depend on remaining popular, what they do or say often reflects what they think a majority of people like – celebrity news is a barometer indicative of what the country/society believes and is anything but frivolous.

I am not completely cynical however. As I write, 49 eminent personalities, including film makers like Mani Ratnam and Aparna Sen, have an FIR lodged against them for “sedition”simply for protesting mob attacks on minorities in a letter to the PM. Protesting this, over 180 public figures –writers, activists, singers, actors etc, have written another open letter, saying, “more of us will speak every day.”

This, and Anna Vetticad’s own determination to not back down in the face of abuse and threats, are nothing short of inspiring for me.

Image source: YouTube

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