Have you heard of director Kamaluddin? Well you probably haven’t because the maker of several hit films and critically acclaimed ones is known to Malayalees as Kamal. But now, the chairman of the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy is being hounded by Hindu groups and referred to by his official name that focuses on his Muslim identity and is even being told by the state BJP to leave the country. They accuse him of disrespecting the national anthem during the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK).
BJP state general secretary A N Radhakrishnan, seeking to refocus the spotlight on the issue from a few weeks ago, on Monday said Kamal “should leave the country if he cannot accept the nation’s rules”.
Nearly a month ago when tempers were running high over the implementation of a Supreme Court order insisting that the national anthem must be played before displaying any film in theatres, five men and a woman in the audience at IFFK refused to stand when ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was being played, and were taken into police custody.
Some news reports said that the director protested against the police action, whereas Kamal, who is the director of IFFK, clarified that his objection was to the fact that police entered the festival premises without informing the festival organisers. Kamal added, for good measure, that before each and every screening, the festival organisers had ensured that the delegates and the audience were told to stand for the national anthem, in both English and Malayalam.
The police action came after a complaint from Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha leaders, the youth wing of the BJP, that the Supreme Court order on standing for the national anthem in theatres was not being followed at IFFK.
However, Kamal’s comments have been construed by the BJP as being ‘anti-national’. Since then, there have been protests in front of the director’s house at Kodungalloor in Thrissur, where BJP activists sang the national anthem and help placards against Kamal, calling him Kamaluddin.
BJP leader Radhakrishnan has also trained his guns on the CPM, the largest party in the ruling Left front in the state, slamming it for its posters of Che Guevara. “Che Guevara was an anarchist and supported violence. Hence CPM should remove the posters of Che Guvera,” he said.
Soon after Radhakrishnan made the statement asking Kamal to leave the country, director Aashiq Abu came out in the support of his former mentor on social media and changed his Facebook profile picture to a mug of Che Guvera. “People are protesting against Kamal as an individual, because of his religion,” Ashiq, who has formerly worked as an assistant director to Kamal, had said earlier.