Eesho, the upcoming Malayalam film starring actor Jayasurya in the title role, finds itself embroiled in controversy after Kerala politician and ex-MLA PC George condemned the film saying its title hurts the religious sentiments of Christians.
The makers, however, have clarified that the film has no connection to Jesus or Christianity. And on Friday, the FEFKA (Film Employees Federation of Kerala) Directors’ Union issued a statement in support of the film’s makers.
The film, directed by Nadirshah from a script penned by Suneesh Varanaad, is produced by Arun Narayan. The producer had earlier told Silverscreen India that Eesho is a suspense thriller about what happens between a mystery man (Jayasurya) and an ATM security guard. “Eesho in Malayalam means Jesus Christ, but here, it is just the name of Jayasurya’s character. The film has no connection to religion. That’s why we have specifically included ‘Not from the Bible’ as the tagline,” he had said.
However, George, when speaking to a news channel on Tuesday, condemned the film’s makers for creating a negative character with a Christian name. “It is better for Nadirshah to let this project go. Do not think about releasing this movie in theatres with this title. I am organising several conferences across Kerala in the coming days to protest against the release of the movie,” the politician added.
When the second look motion poster of the film was released on Wednesday, it featured the film’s name as before, but the makers had removed the tagline.
Nadirshah, in a Facebook post earlier, had clarified that the film has nothing to do with Jesus, and Eesho is just the name of the character. While he had agreed to remove the tagline, the filmmaker reaffirmed that the title will not be changed and requested the audience to watch the film before jumping to any conclusions.
The FEFKA Directors’ Union, in its statement on Friday, said this is not the first time the central character’s name has appeared in a movie title. “The film industry operates in complete communal harmony, without caste, religion, political or regional divisions. FEFKA welcomes director Nadirshah’s decision to go ahead with the name Eesho,” the statement added, and called for the support of the public in combating this encroachment on freedom of expression.
Reacting to the controversy, Arun said to Silverscreen India, “We are moving forward with the title, which is the protagonist’s name. If you see Nadirshah’s films, all the titles are drawn from the names of the central characters, like Amar Akbar Anthony, Kattappanayile Hrithik Roshan, Mera Naam Shaji, and Kesu Ee Veedinte Nadhan. What is wrong with it? It is not related to the Bible and is just the name of Jayasurya’s character. The film is purely a commercial thriller with no connection or reference to anything religious. It is an out-an-out entertainer.”
The producer added that it is disappointing to see educated people from Kerala objecting to the title for religious reasons.
He also said that they have removed the tagline so that the controversy can subside. “We had actually originally included the tagline to avoid controversy. But that itself became a controversy. They said that ‘Eesho, Not from the Bible’, will hurt the feelings of devotees because Eesho is always from the Bible. Therefore, we removed it. Now, they are coming after the title itself. Our cameraman Roby Varghese has seen every frame, the re-recording has been done by Jakes Bejoy, a strong devotee of Jesus, and I also visit the church — we have all carefully avoided any religious defamation. This controversy is completely unnecessary,” he added.
The producer also said such controversies will curtail the freedom of expression of filmmakers.
Eesho is currently in the post-production stage.