“You are all aware of the problems in my life. However, Kavya was not the reason for any of them. Hence, I wanted to marry the girl who had been made a scapegoat by being linked to me.” Unfortunately for the popular Malayalam actor Dileep, this statement has had just the opposite effect from what he’d hoped. Instead of putting to rest all speculation regarding his sudden marriage to actress Kavya Madhavan after years of rumours on the nature of their relationship, it unleashed a rash of comments on social media questioning his motives. If he had hoped to garner some popular votes or applause for ‘doing right’ by Madhavan, he was mistaken. His attempt boomeranged.
Implicit in his statement was the assertion that he married her only because he wanted to protect her fair name. Did that mean that as a man he had no honour or name to ‘protect’?
In this day and age, when women have more than proved their ability to strike it out on their own, as Kavya Madhavan – herself an extremely popular actress – has shown, this idea that she needed to get married to protect her fair name comes as a bit of a contradiction, an anachronism. Why couldn’t he have said he married her because he truly loved her, respected and needed her, or, for that matter, that ‘they’ loved ‘each other’ and wanted to be together for ever? That would have been a fair reason for anyone to base a relationship upon. And perhaps it might have won him more support.
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But sadly, the fact that he needed to state a reason other than that he loved her not only demeans Madhavan as a woman and a person but the very nature of the relationship he is trying to protect.
Dileep, a one-time mimicry artiste turned actor, was married to another equally if not more popular Malayalam actress, Manju Warrier, for more than 16 years. They have a daughter. Warrier quietly retired from the acting scene soon after her marriage. About the same time, just as his career began to take off, Dileep and Madhavan were cast together for the first time in her very first film. They soon became a hit pair, much loved and gossiped about, and have acted together in 20–25 films. Since then, despite a short-lived marriage to a Dubai actor turned businessman, she has had an equally successful and brilliant innings in the film industry. Dileep and Warrier, who had begun living apart, announced their separation officially early last year. The rumour mills had a field day conjecturing on Madhavan’s role in the breakup, even as the talented Warrier returned to the industry with a vengeance, as if to make up for lost time.
After a hard battle for parity and despite large strides towards women’s empowerment, there is even now this subconscious notion of male superiority embedded in every ‘couple’ relationship, which is actually perhaps inherent in every male–female relationship, especially when it comes to ‘her reputation’ vis-à-vis his.
Dileep wasn’t that far off the mark when he unconsciously revealed what lies hidden behind all this show of equal opportunities and women’s empowerment. He belongs to a society that is still moored in patriarchal trappings. Unless that changes on the ground, nothing else will and the fight must go on. So however distasteful it might seem, let’s cut him some slack, shall we?