Malabar-rebellion movie projects hit by COVID-19 pandemic

As many as four major projects, including the one featuring actor Prithviraj as Variamkunnan,were announced last year to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the rebellion.

Malayalam cinema projects on the controversial 1921 Malabar rebellion and its leader Variamkunnathu Kunjahamad Haji have been hit by the pandemic-induced economic slowdown.

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While the financial crisis has forced some of the cinema producers to reconsider investing in the mega film project, the restrictions on assembly of people, too, have affected the film-making efforts.

As many as four major projects, including the one featuring actor Prithviraj as Variamkunnan,were announced last year to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the rebellion. The Prithviraj movie announced by filmmaker Ashique Abu had triggered a political controversy with Sangh Parivar outfits vehemently opposing it.

Despite repeated attempts, response from Mr. Abu could not be obtained.

The Hindu had reported that a sub-committee of the Indian Council for Historical Research had suggested dropping the names of martyrs of the rebellion, including Haji and Ali Musliyar, from the list of Indian freedom fighters.

Ali Akbar, a pro-Sangh Parivar filmmaker, said, the shooting of second schedule of his film, Puzha muthal puzha vare, on the theme, will begin in the first week of September. The project has already received ₹1.30 crore aid through crowd funding and requires an additional one crore rupees for completion, Mr. Ali said.

The shooting of some scenes, involving around 1,000 artists, could not be carried out due to COVID-19 restrictions. The cinema is likely to be released in December, he added.

Noted filmmaker P. T. Kunjumuhammad is waiting for a producer to take up the sensitive project. The script of the movie has been completed and few actors identified. The financial crisis forced a producer, who had earlier agreed to fund the project, to backtrack. However, the project has not been shelved. A producer with a strong political conviction is needed for such projects, he said.

Playwright Ibrahim Vengara also has a script ready and is waiting for a producer for the project. He said he had identified some locations for the movie and sounded a prominent actor to don the role of Variamkunnan in the movie.

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