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Aashiq Abu’s ‘Vaariyamkunnan’ Starring Prithviraj Sukumaran Is About The Contentious 1921 Malabar Rebellion

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The film industry has been by far one of the bigger casualties of the pandemic that is presently ravaging the country. With a nearly 3-month lockdown in place, shooting, post-production, have come to a halt. With the Kerala state government giving the nod for a limited crew for shoots, production companies have slowly resumed shooting of pending projects, even as some completed projects have taken the OTT route to release movies.

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With shooting resuming, actors and production companies have begun making a slew of announcements about upcoming projects. Actor Prithviraj Sukumaran recently took to his Instagram and social media handles to announce his next project with director Aashiq Abu.

The historical film, titled Vaariyamkunnan, is based on the Malabar Uprising in 1921 during the British Raj. The film is based on the life of Kunjahammed Haji, better known as Vaaryamkunnan, who, for a short while, set up his own regime.

Legend has it that scholarly man, who also loved the traditional and folk arts used music and folk songs to rally the locals against the British. It is also believed that Haji ensured that his movement had a secular character. After he was caught and killed by the British Raj, all records of his regime and history were burnt, he was also cremated so that people would not have the opportunity to use his grave as a motivator toward rousing sentiment against the empire.

Meanwhile, on cue, right wing elements are already indulging in mud slinging against the actor for working on this film, calling the late Kunjahammed Haji anti-Hindu, and demanding that the actor withdraw from the film. This isn’t a new position however. In 2018, the Kerala BJP pressured the Indian railways into removing a portrait depicting the ‘Wagon Tragedy’ in which the captured rebels suffocated to death in the aftermath of what is also called the Mapilla rebellion. BJP Tirur mandal committee K P Pradeep had then said, “It is highly objectionable and outrages the sentiments of Hindus. If such paintings are allowed, it would shatter the secular fabric of the region. Hence, we complained to railway authorities.”

Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan responded to the removal of the painting by sharing it on his Facebook wall: “Wagon Tragedy is an important chapter of our freedom struggle. The decision amounts to insulting the struggle in 1921. It is not difficult to understand the Opposition from Sangh Parivar towards the painting. RSS is in general allergic to the memories of the Indian Independence Struggle. By capitalising on their power in the Centre and the State Governments, they are now on a history rewriting spree. It is unbecoming of a public institution like the Railways to succumb to such demands.”

Writer and activist MN Karasseri has come out in support of the makers of the film and the actor saying the film is about the historical figure and that the artists were chosen based on their merit and that the controversy about the film before more details were available was pointless.

The film will begin shooting in 2021 on the 100th anniversary of the revolution.

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ലോകത്തിന്റെ നാലിലൊന്ന് ഭാഗവും അടക്കി ഭരിച്ചിരുന്ന ബ്രിട്ടീഷ് സ്വാമ്രാജ്യത്തിനെതിരെ യുദ്ധം ചെയ്ത് ‘മലയാളരാജ്യം’ എന്ന സ്വതന്ത്ര രാഷ്ട്രം സ്ഥാപിച്ച വാരിയംകുന്നത്ത്‌ കുഞ്ഞഹമ്മദ് ഹാജിയുടെ ചരിത്രം ഞങ്ങൾ സിനിമയാക്കുന്നു. ആസൂത്രിതമായി മറവിയിലേക്ക് തള്ളപ്പെട്ട മലബാർ വിപ്ലവ ചരിത്രത്തിന്റെ നൂറാം വാർഷികത്തിൽ (2021) ചിത്രീകരണം ആരംഭിക്കുന്നു. 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 history was burned and buried, the legend lived on! The legend of a leader, a soldier, a patriot. A film on the man who became the face of the 1921 Malabar revolution. #Vaariyamkunnan. Filming begins in 2021. On the 100th anniversary. #1921 #MalabarRevolution #1921Revolution #CompassMovies #OPMcinemas @Vaariyamkunnan

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