Brave heart

P.T. Kunhu Mohammed’s ‘Veeraputhran,’ an ode to Mohammed Abdul Rehman, reaches silver screens today.

‘Veeraputhran’ is a homage, long over due, to a forgotten patriot who hailed from Kerala – Mohammed Abdul Rehman. Filmmaker P.T. Kunhu Mohammed says what inspired him to make the film is the Malayali’s reluctance to study his own history. “As a result, the global Malayali is attuned to world events but is sadly in the dark when it comes to his own legacy,” he adds.

In fact, the filmmaker’s oeuvre shows his inclination to make films on subjects that most Malayalis would rather ignore or pretend not to exist. If ‘Garshom’ examined the myth of affluent lifestyles of all those working in the ‘Gulf’ and gave a close-up view of their predicament without any attempt to gloss over the reality, ‘Paradesi’ revealed the plight of Malayalis caught in no-man’s land after the Partition of India. In ‘Veeraputhran’ Mohammed forces us to re-examine our history and see how we have treated leaders who stood for a secular India.

Re-examining history

The film focusses on the period from 1921 to 1945. In 1921, Rehman moved centre stage during the Ottapalam session of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee following his return to Kerala after discontinuing his studies at Aligarh. From then on he strode like a colossus on the political scene in Kerala till his death in 1945.

He was incarcerated for various periods in places such as Bellary and Vellore for his unrelenting fight against imperialism and fundamentalism. “He was an uncompromising patriot who stood for a united India. His contemporaries sang his praise. But the tragedy in his life is that he was hounded by the very people for whom he gave his life, fighting against forces of communalism and colonialism,” says the filmmaker.

Rehman launched a news paper called ‘Al-Ameen’ and set up a hermitage in Kozhikode. This iconic leader also met Subash Chandra Bose shortly before Netaji left for Japan.

Narain plays the lead in this biopic on the leader. The actor agrees that it is a role of a lifetime for him and to do justice to his character, Narain did a lot of homework to do his first period film. Raima Sen plays Kunhi Beevathu, Rehman’s wife, who died just two-and-a-half years after their marriage.

“There is hardly a poet who has not written paeans to his leadership and courage. Vylloppily, Sachidanandan, Akkitham, Vallathol, P. Bhaskaran and Prabha Varma have eulogised him in verse. Books have been written by S.K. Pottekkatt and N.P. Mohammed, and many others. This is my tribute to him,” says Kunhu Mohammed, who took more than two years to bring the story of Rehman’s life to the screen.

He avers that it is through culture, including literature, music, dance and tradition that a community converses with the world. He says: “By turning their back on such a wealth of culture and tradition, a community would only be harming itself in the long run.”

With more than 170 characters in the film, and many of them historical figures who figure in Kerala’s and India’s political history, the film has one of the biggest casts in Malayalam cinema.

‘Veeraputhran’ covers a large period of the struggle for independence in Kerala and includes events such as the Moplah Revolt and Pookkottur battle.

It also dwells upon the contributions of patriots such as K. Kelappan and K.P. Kesava Menon.

Some of the best actors and technical persons in cinema have joined hands to breathe life into the characters and the movie. The cast includes Siddique, Kalabhavan Mani, Devan, Saikumar, Devan, Ashokan, Madhupal, Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, Shobha Menon, and Valsala Menon among others.

Five lovely songs have been tuned by Ramesh Narayan. The pick of the lot is Moinkutty Vaidyar’s lyrics that incorporates the typical rhythm of a Mappilapaatu, and sung evocatively by Sankar Mahdevan. Shreya Ghoshal and K.J. Yesudas sing the other songs, two of which have been written by Rafeek Ahmed.

Camera has been cranked by M.J. Radhakrishnan.

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