BJP leader and reputed filmmaker Ramasimhan (formerly Ali Akbar) was excited to venture into producing 1921 – Puzha Muthal Puzha Vare (1921 – River to River), a Malayalam movie on Hindu massacre of 1921, engineered in the name of Khilafat Movement. He resolved to take up this initiative when CPI(M)-led Kerala Government declared projects to glorify notorious Muslim rioter Variyankkunathu Kunjahammad Haji, who led the inhuman massacre of thousands of Hindus including women and children, conversion of thousands of Hindus into Islam, sexual abuse of thousands of women and desecration and demolition of hundreds of Hindus temples, as a freedom fighter and portrayed the anti-Hindu Khilafat movement as a farmer’s agitation which turned to freedom struggle against the British.
But Ramasimhan’s dream project still remains a mere dream, thanks to the unreasonable and rude hurdles and hassles created by the Censor Board. Khilafat was the worst Hindu genocide which Dakshin Bharat has ever witnessed. Congress-led (Opposition) United Democratic Front was all smiles to support the ruling LDF initiatives, due to the Muslim vote bank politics prevailing in the State. And, a pro-Jihadi film personality came out to declare that he was going to make a film picturing Haji as a freedom fighter.
It invited stiff opposition from pro-Hindu and nationalistic forces. However, not much has been heard about that film thereafter. It was against this backdrop that Ramasimhan came out with his resolution to make a film picturising the factual story of 1921. Along with declaring the film project in 2021 he said to the media persons that thereafter he is Ramasimhan, instead of Ali Akbar. He was accepting the name of a prominent person who was born and lived in Muslim-majority district of Malappuram. He was a prominent Muslim called Unnyen Saheb before his whole family embraced Hindutva and accepted the name Ramasimhan. But, within a few years Jihadis stormed into his bungalow and massacred his entire family and his younger brother Dayasimhan on August 2, 1947, barely two weeks before the country’s Independence.
Filmmaker Ramasimhan took the initial steps for his pet project in a unique style. He deviated from the traditional line of roping in a single producer’s money for the film. On the other hand, he invited investments from the general public. People with hearts filled with Hindutva, nationalism and anti-Jihadism, put in their hard-earned money for Ramasimhan’s noble project. And, he completed the production of the historic project in a short period of time. But, Malayalam Film Censor Board would not give him its Certificate, the nod to screen. Ramasimhan told this correspondent that two out four member team, who examined the movie, gave their green signal. But, then came the ‘cast vote’ of Kerala Regional Officer of the Central Board of Film Certification. Officer Smt. Parvathi, the granddaughter of late senior CPI(M) leader and former Kerala Assembly Speaker Varkkala Radhakrishnan, had already completed her two years’ deputation about a couple of years back. But, she enjoys an extension of another two years despite strong opposition from the film industry.
In Mumbai, it is a nine-member team. And, they invited Dr C I Isaac, famous historian from Kerala and member of ICHR to join the screening committee. After examining the movie, they invited Ramasimhan to Mumbai. When he reached Mumbai, they suggested the following some changes which were crucial for the film.
After some time, Ramasimhan was asked to reach Mumbai again as the film was before the ‘Re-revising Committee’. Now, the nine member Committee consists of three Muslim ladies and the entire committee was manned by Hindi-speaking members; no one could follow Malayalam. Again Ramasimhan was asked to make some more crucial changes. They are as follows:
- Film refers to a Muslim Kingdom founded by Variyankkunathu Kunjahammad Haji in Malabar based on Shariat laws. One Muslim lady member asked Ramasimham to remove it
- Committee asked him to remove Gandhi’s name from the film
- Committee asked the filmmaker to remove the quotation from the speech of late Madhavan Nair, Congress leader from Malabar, during Khilafat days that ‘Quran says, those who come against Muslims alone can be treated as enemies’
- Committee asked him to remove the visuals of Nagalikkavu well. Several massacred Hindus were thrown into it just like Thuvoor well.
- Committee asked to remove the visuals and reference to forceful conversion of Hindus into Islam.
- Film shows people addressing male members of Nilambur Palace as ‘Thamburane’ and its subtitle translation was ‘Lord’. The Committee wanted to change it into ‘Land Lord’.
- The Committee asked him to remove his name ‘Ramasimhan’, the name he accepted a couple of years back. They wanted him to use his original name ‘Ali Akbar’ in the title.
- Committee asked him to reduce the number of people raising the slogan ‘Bolo Thakdeer’ by 50 per cent.
- Committee asked Ramasimhan to execute several other ‘reductions’. The total duration of the film is 3 hours 12 minutes.
- Committee objected to the dialogue between Chathan and Savithri, Dalit youth and Namboothiri Brahmin girl respectively, two characters from Duravastha, famous mahakavyam (large text of poem) authored by Mahakavi (great poet), Kumaran Ashan, beloved disciple of Sri Narayana Gurudev and Chattambi Swamiji, legendary Hindu monk of Kerala. Savithri reached the hut of the labourer Chathan, when she tried to escape from Jihadis during Moplah rebellion. Chathan gave her the asylum. Later on when Savithri proposed to him he said, ‘I don’t mind, but it is your choice’. Then they lived a happy life together. Ramasimhan wonder why the Committee wanted to remove this part from his film.
- Committee insisted on the introductory declaration stating that the characters are imaginary. Ramasimham told, with deep regret and grief, that he is worried about the infiltration of Jihadis into the establishment. He drafted the script based on the works of Madhavan Nair, the Congress leader of Malabar during Khilafat days and “The Moplah Rebellion 1921” of C Gopalan Nair, the then Deputy Collector of Malabar. He was the member of the Enquiry Commission appointed by the British government to enquire into the Rebellion. If he makes the changes according to the whims and fancies of the Re-revisiting Committee, his film would lose its spirit and it would not make any sense. It will negate the true history. His whole effort will be futile. All right-thinking people are worried about this matter.