"The freedom movement has not been recorded properly. That is my inspiration for writing the script for this film on the heroism of Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja," Jnanpith award-winning writer and film director M T Vasudevan Nair, who wrote the script, said in an interview.
Pazhassi Raja of Padinhare Kovilakam in Kottayam in North Malabar sprang an uprising against the mighty British with a motley crowd of tribals, farmers and local people, said Nair.
"He was by then dethroned as King at that time and was not a Raja," he added.
Hariharan, who is directing the movie, said, "The Sepoy mutiny is considered the first organised revolt against British rule. Who knows that in the early 1800s a man fought the British, irked by the wrong revenue policy of the East India Company."
The film, for which Oscar winning sound mixer Resul Pookutty recreated all location scenes to ensure perfection, is different in many aspects.
Vasudevan Nair and Hariharan are coming together after a long time after the mega hit "Vadakkan Veeragadha" on the unknown chekavors (warriors) of Malabar.
It is also a film with the most expensive production budget in the Malayalam industry. A sum of Rs 26 crore was spent on production, which lasted two and a half years.
Besides Mammootty, "Pazhassi Raja" also features Padmapriya, Kaniha, Manoj K Jayan and Sarat Kumar, along with a number of supporting actors from Hollywood.
The film is also set to create a record of sorts with a worldwide release in 525 cinemas, including 115 theatres in Kerala, said Sree Harilal, General Manager of Gokulam Movies, the producer.
The Hindi, Tamil and Hindi versions would be released simultaneously. The film will be released in Gulf countries, UK, Singapore and other places, where there is a strong Malayalee population, he added.
Pazhassi Raja fought against the imperialists to protest the monopoly on collecting taxes, an issue Mahatma Gandhi later took up through the non-co-operation movement, Nair said.
Ever the perfectionist, Resul Pookkutty insisted on location sound recording and all actors, including the horse on which Pazhassi rode, were directed to come back to do the recording, which was done with his own studio equipment.
The background score for the film is by the 'king of music' Ilayaraja. Hariharan said it took 90 days to finish re-recording. For the first time in Indian cinema, Hungarian symphony was used for it, he said.
The film is to unveil the different aspects of the life of Pazhassi Raja as a brave warrior, a true patriot and a loving husband. "M T (Vasudevan Nair) has done the script with the help of several history books, including William Logan's 'Malabar Manual,'" Hariharan said.
Harilal said an English version was planned earlier, but Malayalee councils abroad had objected to the idea.