Prithviraj Sukumaran, Aashiq Abu Back Out From ‘Vaariyamkunnan’

Actor Prithviraj Sukumaran and director Aashiq Abu have withdrawn from a movie project based on the life of Variankunnathu Kunjahammed Haji, a leader of the 1921 Malabar rebellion who was executed by the British regime.

Abu told PTI today that he and Prithviraj have withdrawn from the movie titled “Vaariyamkunnan” due to differences with producers. There was no immediate reaction from the producers of the movie on the development. Both Prithviraj and Abu had come under attack from the rightwing over their decision to make a movie glorifying the life of Haji, claiming that he was a leader of fanatics who targeted Hindus in Eranadu and Valluvanadu taluks in south Malabar during the Malabar Rebellion also known as “Moplah riot” a century ago. The announcement came at a time when the matter is still being debated in Kerala society on the nature of rebellion– whether it is an anti-colonial movement that took a communal turn or merely an action by religious fanatics.

A row had erupted in Kerala in June last year following Abu’s announcement in a Facebook post that actor Prithviraj will play the role of Haji in his movie titled “Variankunnan”. It was slated to be released this year, coinciding with the centenary celebrations of the Malabar Rebellion.

When the project was announced, Prithviraj had said Haji 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,” he had said.

While many of their followers supported Prithviraj and Abu for their decision to produce a movie on the life of Haji, some had argued that both film personalities see only a biased version of his story and no justice will be done to history through their work.

Hindu Aikyavedi, a Sangh outfit, had alleged that the film’s early announcement was made with an “ulterior motive.”

According to it, Haji and other leaders of Malabar Rebellion were responsible for atrocities committed on Hindus in Eranadu and Valluvanadu in 1921.

Three other movies were also announced in Malayalam based on Haji’s life during the centenary celebrations of the Malabar rebellion.

Award-winning director P T Kunjumuhammed, theatre artiste and director Ibrahim Vengara, and film director Ali Akbar, known for his proximity towards Hindu outfits, are helming the movies.

Ali’s under production movie project depicts Haji as a villain who unleashed violence against Hindus in Eranadu and Valluvanadu during the rebellion.

Left historians in the state have argued that the Malabar rebellion should be seen as a peasant struggle against the Hindu feudal landlords in the region.

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