As the Kochi wing of the 25th edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala gears up for the patrons, actor Salim Kumar has come forward alleging it to be a “CPM film festival”. Following the Covid protocols, the state government had decided to conduct the festival in four venues, and the event’s inauguration in Kochi has received widespread criticism for not having invited Salim Kumar to the event.
Around 25 award-winning artistes were invited to the event to light the lamp and inaugurate the event, which included directors Ashique Abu and Amal Neerad. When Ernakulam-resident Salim Kumar inquired as to why he wasn’t invited, festival committee member Sohanlal replied that the former was too old to have been invited to the event. However, the National Award-winning actor responded that Ashique and Amal were his juniors while in college, and there wasn’t much of a difference between their ages. “I could have understood that if I had been 90,” he told.
Another matter was that there was no sensible reason as to why he hadn’t been invited to the event. Apart from the feeble age argument, there is no question of eligibility. Salim has won Best Actor, Best Second Actor, Best Story, and Best Comedian categories in the Kerala State Film Awards, and Best Actor in Kerala State Television Awards and National Awards. Moreover, he is from Ernakulam and avoiding him on the grounds of geography was not possible. According to Salim, it was a political decision.
“They didn’t want an award-winning Congress member on the stage, since their problem was my politics and not age. This is a CPM mela, and they have already proved that they could do anything to artistes. Isn’t that why they left the awards on the table at the recent State Film Award ceremony,” he had added.
Following the outrage, Chalachitra Academy chairman Kamal had denied the allegations that Salim Kumar was avoided due to political reasons. He told the media that they might have called the actor late or expected him to be there for the event.