A row over an upcoming Malayalam film has taken a political turn with the BJP alleging that the film is part of the ruling CPI(M)’s attempt to glorify an “anti-Hindu” leader.
The film, titled ‘Vaariyamkunnan’, which various Hindu outfits have come out against, is set during the 100-year-old Malabar rebellion, and is based on the life of a Malabar rebellion leader, Variyamkunnath Kunjahammed Haji, who was killed by the British in 1921.
Aashiq Abu, who is seen as a Left sympathiser, is directing the film, which will star Prithviraj Sukumaran in the lead. Prithviraj made the announcement about the film on social media the other day.
The BJP and Hindu Aikya Vedi said that Kunjahammed Haji was an anti-Hindu leader as Hindus were killed and raped during the Malabar rebellion, which also resulted in communal riots. They also claimed that even communist leaders like E M S Namboodiripad had said so. But the Left maintains that Haji was a legendary leader. Even Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said that Haji was a leader who fought against the British and was respected for that.
Veteran historian M G S Narayanan said that the Malabar rebellion was not anti-Hindu, but was against the British and the landlords. Since a majority of the landlords were Hindus, a majority of the victims of the attacks turned out to be Hindus, he said during a discussion over the issue.
BJP state Vice President A P Abdullahkutty alleged that the film was a political ploy by Pinarayi to appease the Muslim community. The government’s stand against the NRIs over the Covid-19 pandemic has caused strong resentment against the Left front mainly from Muslim community members who form a major chunk of the NRIs.
Abdullahkutty said that this is the reason the film was being made by a Left sympathiser. Critics of the BJP and other Hindu outfits said that the controversy was aimed at the polarisation of Hindus in Kerala, and linked them to the earlier Sabarimala issue. Soon after the announcement of the film, the filmmaker Ali Akbar, a BJP supporter, announced that he too will be doing a film on the subject, while P T Kunju Muhammed, a Left sympathiser, also announced a project on the subject. Noted Malayalam playwright Ibrahim Vengara is bringing out a film on the topic to mark the centenary of the Malabar rebellion.