He calls it an attempt to regain a sense of history. With its alluring waterways and idyllic lagoons Kuttanad might be just a tourist hotspot for many. But rewind to the pre-independence past and the land turns into a hub of glorious struggles. Delving deep into its rebellious past is Kuttanadinte Ithihasam, Cheriyan Kalpakavadi’s telefilm based on N K Kamalasanan’s Kuttanadum Karshakathozhilali Prasthanavum. “It’s a film that doesn’t dilute or trivialise history,” says the director.
Kuttanadinte Ithihasam records an era that spans nearly three decades from 1930 to 1957; a socially and politically volatile period that witnessed many an uprising in and around Kuttanad. The docu-fiction is set in a time when farm labourers belonged to the lowest layer of social pyramid. The film chronicles the trauma of untouchability, the flaring unrest and the rise of the downtrodden. “The first revolt came from the followers of Sree Narayana Guru and eventually labour unions and movements sprang up. My father T K Varghese Vaidyan was the first president of Thiruvithamkoor Karshaka Thozhilali Union, the first framer’s union in Kerala,” he says.
There were times when rice was dearer than gold. While landlords filled their granaries with paddy, farmers were left to extreme squalor and poverty. Violence was unleashed against those who dared to raise their voice - farmers squashed to death, their women raped and huts torched. “The film captures the terror and tyranny without overdoing it,” he adds.
Cherian says his film is also a tribute to the unsung heroes of Kuttanad whose names didn’t make it to the history books. “There are men who died fighting, martyrs who remain unknown. Kuttanadinte Ithihasm tries to trace them. The one-hour film is authentic if not anything. It sticks to the facts and features real-life farmers and villagers instead of actors,” he says. The telefilm produced by Anil Biswas under the banner of Starnet Media, will be aired today 3 pm on Kaumudi channel.