KOCHI: A week after news reports came out that the names of Malabar Rebellion leaders Variamkunnath Kunjahammed Haji, Ali Musaliar and 387 other 'Moplah martyrs' would be removed from the Dictionary of Martyrs of India’s Freedom Struggle, Malayalam actor Prithviraj and director Aashiq Abu have decided to withdraw from the movie project titled 'Vaariyamkunnan', which was announced last year.
The duo's decision comes at a time when debates are continuing on whether the Moplah rebellion --- held exactly 100 years ago --- was a freedom movement or a Hindu genocide. Though Aashiq was not available for comment, sources close to the project said he had cited production issues as the reason for the withdrawal.
The movie was announced as a joint venture of Compass Movies Ltd and Abu's OPM Cinemas. However, the producers were not able to provide the necessary resources and the differences of opinion with them resulted in the duo backtracking from the project, said a source.
Meanwhile, in June 2020, when Prithviraj announced that he would be a part of the project, religious outfits including Hindu Aikya Vedi came out in the open against the actor in no time for agreeing to perform the role of the Muslim leader, who according to them, had committed crimes against the Hindu community. RSS and other Sangh outfits too came down heavily on the project, alleging that it was a deliberate attempt by a particular community to glorify Kunjahammed Haji.
One of the scriptwriters of Abu’s 'Variyamkunnan' also withdrew from the film following a raging controversy over his old Facebook posts, which were of extremist and misogynistic nature. Interestingly, director Ali Akbar, who is a Sangh supporter, too had announced a movie on the same day when Abu and the team did it. Two more directors --- P T Kunju Mohammed and Ibrahim Vengara --- also announced they were coming up with movies based on Kunjahammed Haji. However, the only movie that started the shooting is Ali Akbar's 1921-Puzha Muthal Puzha Vare, which is being produced under the banner Mamadharma through crowdfunding.
“We have raised Rs 1.5 crore through crowdfunding. The total budget of the film is Rs 3 crore and 60% of the shooting has been completed. Though we were planning to start our next schedule this week, we were forced to postpone it due to the Covid crisis. The climax sequence can be shot only after the Covid restrictions are lifted,” said Ali Akbar.