Movie on Malabar rebellion hero triggers right wing’s furyIn Kerala
A Malayalam film project on Malabar Mappila rebellion hero Variyankunnathu Kunajahmed Haji has triggered a controversy and many Sangh Parivar outfits have asked actor Prithviraj Sukumaran not to accept the role.
The Mappila uprising of 1920 is a controversial issue. While some historians say it was the first uprising against British colonialism in south India, many right wing groups contend that Hindus suffered a lot during the riots that followed the rebellion and eventually paved way for the two-nation theory.
Hindu Aikya Vedi leader M V Babu and BJP leader M T Ramesh asked the actor not to associate with the movie titled ‘Vaariyamkunnan’ directed by Aashiq Abu, who directed many hit movies like ‘Virus’, which was based on the state’s fight against nipah virus in 2018.
While Aashiq Abu, known for his leftist leanings, announced his movie plan on Monday another film-maker P T Kunju Mohammad, said he will also make a movie on the life of Haji as a 100-year tribute. He said his cast and other details will be announced after Covid restrictions are lifted.
While a section of historians and liberals portray Haji, who was captured and executed by British in 1921, as an unsung hero, another section and many parivar outfits say he comdirector brushed aside opposition and said the team will go ahead with their dream project.mitted atrocities against Hindus. “The 1921 riots were an attack against Hindus. Haji is a controversial character like Tipu Sultan of Mysuru. We have requested Prithviraj not to take up this role,” said M V Babu.
BJP leader M T Ramesh said it was another attempt to glorify the controversial character. Many right wing activists also took to social media to criticise Prithviraj. But the director brushed aside opposition and said the team will go ahead with its dream project.
“He stood up against an empire that ruled a quarter of the world. Etched out his own country with an army that waged a never before war against the British. Though the history was burned and buried, the legend lived on. The legend of a leader, a soldier, a patriot,” tweeted Aashiq Abu while announcing the project. The period cinema is being planned as a centenary tribute in 2021-22.
This is not the first time Mappila rebellion is becoming a theme of a movie. In 1988 late director I V Sasi made a film titled ‘1921’ and it was a big hit. But there was no controversy then. The Mappila rebellion which began as part of the 1920 Khilafat Movement, was initially a resistance against British and feudal landlords of Malabar (north Kerala), but degenerated into communal riots.
The riot was quelled in 1921 but it led to another tragedy called Wagon Tragedy in which 64 people who were among a wagonload of prisoners being taken to Coimbatore for trial, suffocated to death. In Tirur railway station (Malappuram) there is a memorial for Wagon Tragedy.