From Heroes to Villians

Over the past twenty-four hours, famed Malayalam film actor Dileep has been taken into police custody and his arrest has been registered as a case of criminal conspiracy. 

For the past week, Dileep and his friend, Malayalam film director Nadir Shah, were the objects of a scandalous controversy that labeled them as ochrastraters of the kidnapping and sexual assault of a well-known, yet unnamed film actress. Suffice to say, the evidence didn’t look good for Dileep and his arrest was inevitable. 

Dileep played a somewhat significant role in my childhood. I can still recall watching CID Moosa and Punjabi House in theatres during the early 2000s. Although chided for its low-brow humor and considered to be extremely dated by today’s standards, CID Moosa and Punjabi House still retain a special place in my memories. 

I had always been a fan of Dileep. His impeccable comidic timing and charismatic demeanor made him as asset to any  film. 

Over the past few years, I’ve felt like I’ve outgrown the low-brow, slapstick comedies. Similarly to the Malayalam film industry, I’ve gravitated towards experimental films with indie story-telling devices. Hence, Dileep’s goofy mimicries impress me less and less. 

Yet simultaously, I still retained a soft spot for Dileep. He embodied my nostalgic inclinations towards a more innocent time. 

Therefore, finding out that Dileep wasn’t the innocent guy next door, similar to the characters he portrayed, has left an unwelcoming bitter aura. 

I suppose I can finally understand how die-hard fans of Bill Cosby felt when the deviant sins of “America’s Dad” were unveiled to the public eye. 

Over the course of his career, Bill Cosby has had a greater impact on American pop culture compared to Dileep’s influence in Malayalam cinema.

From Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids to The Cosby Show, Bill Cosby changed the format of American television programming. The TV shows he produced successfully accomplished the rare task of being both educational and entertaining. They conveyed a relevant, timeless moral lesson without being conspicuously preachy. 

During the apex of his career, the Civil Rights Movemrnt took the nation by storm. Bill Cosby never took on the role of a Civil Rights activist. However, through his standup routines in the late 1960s, Cosby united Blacks and Whites and demonstrated that humor transcends color. 

Bill Cosby was the symbol of moral rectitude and social refinement. He beseeched young people to strive for education and character. He spoke out against neglectful parenting, juvenile delinquency, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and lack of manners. He instilled a sense of dignity and self-respect in teenagers and young adults, enabling them to expand their horizon and set goals for themselves. 

Imagine our luck when we found out that Bill Cosby may have drugged a woman or two (or fifty!). Imagine our luck when we found out that our role model was a cruel, sadistic psychopath! Imagine our luck when we found out that America’s dad was the monster in the closet! 

We all know the saying: “Never meet your heroes”. However, in the Information Age, you don’t need to meet your heroes to uncover their darkest secrets! If that Hannibal Bugress video had never gone viral, we would still look to Bill Cosby with admiration. If Pulsar Suni hadn’t coincidentally appeared in that selfie taken during one of Dileep’s film shooting, the actor’s image would have remained untarnished.

Are we better off knowing the truth about our idols? Is it worth having our childhood’s ruined? 

It’s a wonder how anyone can remain an idealist in this day and age 

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