The announcement of a new Malayalam film, based on the life of Variyankunnathu Kunjahammed Haji, who led the Malabar rebellion against the British has led to a hate campaign by the extremist Sangh Parivar against the proposed movie and the crew.
“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 (sic),” the film’s lead actor Prithviraj Sukumaran wrote on social media.
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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
Within a few hours of the movie’s announcement by Prithviraj, a slew of comments criticizing the movie was unleashed by Sangh Parivar propagandists. They slammed the actor and director Aashiq Abu for choosing to make a movie on Kunjahammed Haji, who they referred to as a ‘Jihadi’.
Some of the fanatics even threatened Aashiq Abu and said that there would be severe consequences if they proceed with the project. They also said that they would never allow the team to shoot the film.
Nevertheless, the director and the lead actor seem least bothered about the criticism and continue to promote the film, which is slated to release in 2021, marking the 100 year anniversary of the Malabar rebellion.
The ‘Malabar Rebellion’ or the ‘Moplah Rebellion’, is a resistance struggle against British colonizers that began in Kerala. The rebellion, sparked by Variyankunnathu Kunjahammed Haji in lieu of the Khilafat movement, aimed to disseminate the British force from the Malabar territory, despite the comparatively lesser fighting force. Kunjahammed Haji raised an army of 75,000 strong natives and seized control of a large area from the British rule and set up a parallel government in Malabar. It was the only single instance where the British had to concede an area as large as 5200 square kilometres to a parallel rule for about five months.
In 1971, the government of Kerala announced the forces who actively participated in the rebellion as freedom fighters. However, the extremists Sangh Parivar accuse Variyankunnathu Kunjahammed Haji and his forces of committing atrocities against the Hindus of Malabar.
Besides Aashiq Abu, three more directors are slated to make films on the great warrior – ‘1921’ by Ali Akbar, ‘Shaheed Variyamkunnan’ by renowned director PT Kunju Mohamed and ‘The Great Variyamkunnan’ by dramatist Ibrahim Vengara. Ali Akbar’s 1921 depicts Variyamkunnan as an antihero, a ray of hope for far-right hate campaigners.