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AMMA
Amma logo1.jpg
Association of Malayalam Movie Artists
Members 320+
Country India
Key people Innocent, President
Office location Kochi, Kerala, India
Website www.malayalamcinema.com

Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) is the association of film actors who work in Malayalam cinema. The association was first of its kind in India, and the functioning of it led to formation of actors guilds in film industries of other Indian languages as well.

Contents

General Body

2008 meeting of the association

The AMMA General Body is the decision making body of the AMMA. The body meets annually and in case of special situations. The General Body members are selected by common understanding, and will use voting among the members in case a unanimous decision is not reached. The General Body members for the period 2009-2012 were unanimously elected and they took charge on June 16th, 2009[1]. The General Body members are[2]:

Activities

  • Kaineettam: A scheme for monthly stipend to actors who are at their elder ages or are suffering from serious diseases. Currently, 51 members of AMMA are receiving stipend of Rs.2000 per month under the scheme.[3]
  • AMMA occasionally conducts stage programmes with film actors for fund-raising.[4]
  • An official publication is in the pipeline, which will be an annual at the beginning and is expected to be a monthly later on.[3]
  • A co-operative society in Kochi is under discussion.[5]
  • AMMA will be starting a fund for the economically poorer sections of the society..[5]

The Film Industry Crisis of 2004

Since its formation the AMMA was involved in a number of controversies, the major one being with the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce, which represents producers, exhibitors and distributors in Kerala. The rift started as early as April 2002 when the Chamber came out with an instruction to the film artistes against appearing in TV programmes or stage shows; the cited reason being diversion of energy of the artistes from films and loss of star value by frequent public appearance[6]. In January 2004, the AMMA decided to participate in an award night conducted by Asianet, a private TV channel to be held on 7 March 2004. The Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce objected the move claiming that it is a breach of an agreement between the two parties which had provisions against the AMMA's members appearing in stage and television shows. Further, the Chamber president, Siyad Kokker warned that all the production work will be halted from 8 March 2004 unless the AMMA refrain from the show[7]. The Malayalam Cine Technicians Association (MACTA), which first took a stand in favour of the Film Chamber, later decided to maintain a neutral stand in the issue[8]. AMMA was put under pressure by some comments made by senior actors Thilakan and Lalu Alex against AMMA. Lalu Alex particularly accused that "the AMMA had betrayed the Film Chamber after signing an agreement"[9]. On 16 April 2004, the AMMA called a press meet in which they demanded changes in agreement with film chamber. They claimed that certain points in the agreement were equivalent to the denial of freedom and rights of the artistes and also detrimental to the growth of the Malayalam film industry, and sought removal of them from the agreement.

The AMMA's concerns regarding the clauses of the agreement:

  1. In the case of remuneration to be paid by the producer to the artiste, there was no guarantee that was assured in the agreement.
  2. The agreement will be in force till the film is released and would in effect prevent an artiste from associating with any other project.
  3. The ban prohibiting an artiste from taking part in star nites or stage shows in India and abroad for a period of 12 months from the date of agreement.
  4. The ban for an artiste to associate themselves with any programmes, including those for the television channels, which were likely to be telecast without the written consent of the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce[10].

While the Film Chamber was adamant on modifying the agreement, the AMMA went forward with the stage programme on 7 March 2004, which further deepened the crisis. The production works in Malayalam film industry halted as both sides remained firm on their stands; the AMMA kept its members from working for any film till the stand-off gets over and the Chamber halted the production works of films. A series of dramatic events followed, which gave new dimensions to the crisis. The first of them was the formation of Malayalam Film Chamber of Commerce vis-à-vis Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce on 10 March 2004. The former consisted of a number of film producers, artistes and other workers. The body set its objective as to keep unity among members of the film industry and to work for their economic, social and professional growth. The officials also claimed that it was not a parallel body to the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce[11]. However, the formation of the Malayalam Film Chamber of Commerce had little effect on the crisis. The Government of Kerala got involved in the controversy after an AMMA delegation met the then-Chief Minister A. K. Antony and requested the Government's help in solving the crisis. Antony directed the Kerala Information and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, M.M. Hassan and the Minister for Food and Culture, G. Karthikeyan to hold talks with the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce. The mediatory efforts by the State Government ended soon on 25 March 2004 as the Chamber refused to involve the AMMA in the talks citing the reason that it does not recognise AMMA. The Chamber representatives also informed the Government that there is no crisis in the industry[12]. Meanwhile, a number of AMMA members conducted a star night programme in Dubai on 26 April 2004, further deepening the crisis. The AMMA's stand was worsened on 28 April 2004, when young actor Prithviraj openly challenged the AMMA and joined a film directed by Vinayan, titled Sathyam after signing the controversial agreement. He insisted that he did not want to disobey the AMMA, but he could not let his career suffer as well. He claimed that he did not find any of the 21 clauses in the agreement as harmful to the interests of the artistes[13]. Parallelly works on another film titled Manju Poloru Penkutty started; the film being directed by Kamal with Lalu Alex and Suresh Krishna in the major cast. Suresh Krishna was another actor who challenged the AMMA's stand. Other cast in both films were either from outside Kerala or were not members of the AMMA. The crisis went through many ups and downs when the MACTA accused the AMMA general secretary Mohanlal of playing dirty (28 March), directors Priyadarshan and T. K. Rajeev Kumar participated in the AMMA star nite on 6 March, the AMMA pulled out of the non-cooperation (18 March), the Chamber drafted new agreement (20 March) and the AMMA's first approval(4 April)[14] and then disapproval(17 April))[15] of the new agreement (which was signed by Prithviraj, Thilakan and Lalu Alex). The crisis came to an end on 3 June 2004 when the AMMA and the Chamber came in terms with the new agreement. The Chamber obliged to alter 2 clauses in the agreement. The changes were[16]:
1. Clause 17

Original Clause: Artistes should get permission from the Chamber for taking part in stage programmes.
Changed to: Artistes need to inform the Chamber about taking part in stage programmes.

2. Clause 21

Original Clause: The Chamber is the body which will take decisions in case of disputes.
Changed to: A combined forum consisting of selected members of the Chamber, the AMMA and the MACTA will be the arbitration body in case of disputes.

The AMMA's decision to abide by the new agreement put an end to the crisis that lasted about 4 months. The artistes who defied the AMMA during the crisis, namely Prithviraj, Suresh Krishna Lalu Alex, Bheeman Raghu, Captain Raju, Meera Jasmine and Kaviyoor Renuka expressed their apology at an AMMA meeting on 13 June 2004 in response to a show-cause notice from the AMMA, further loosening the situation[17]. However a fresh crisis surfaced with the Chamber's decision to go ahead with an indefinite Cinema Bandh starting on 15 June 2004 seeking reduction of electricity rate slash for supply to cinema halls and reduction in entertainment tax[18]. The bandh was called off on 2 July 2004 after the State Government assured to take positive stand on the demands of the Chamber[19].

References

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