'Love jihad' plea against biopic on poet

A lawyer has approached Kerala High Court alleging that a biopic on poet Madhavikutty aka Kamala Das, who became Kamala Surayya after embracing Islam, justifies "love jihad".

By K.M. Rakesh in Bangalore
  • Published 1.02.18
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(From top) Kamala Das, the poet after she became Kamala Surayya, Manju Warrier playing Kamala

Bangalore: A lawyer has approached Kerala High Court alleging that a biopic on poet Madhavikutty aka Kamala Das, who became Kamala Surayya after embracing Islam, justifies "love jihad".

The petitioner, high court lawyer K.P. Ramachandran, has sought a direction to stop the Central Board of Film Certification from allowing the movie, Aami, to release. The Malayalam film, cleared by the censor board without any cuts according to director Kamal, is set for release on February 9.

The court issued notices to the CBFC, the Union and state governments, Kamal, the film's producers and former Rajya Sabha MP and Islamic orator Abdul Samad Samadani, said to be behind the conversion of Kamala Das to Islam in December 1999.

She wrote as Madhavikutty in Malayalam and Kamala Das in English and had a massive fan following, especially among youths. Among the most popular women writers in the country, Kamala Das celebrated her sexuality and wrote about it in her Malayalam novel Ente Katha, which was later published as My Story in English.

Madhavikutty spent her childhood in Calcutta, where her father used to work for Walford Transport Company, and Thrissur in Kerala.

"I have absolutely no political leanings. This petition is only about the wrong portrayal of the story of one of the greatest writers in Malayalam, as her conversion to Islam was the first account of love jihad in Kerala," Ramachandran told The Telegraph on Wednesday.

The court has set the next date of hearing for February 6, when the respondents will have to reply to the notices.

"We all know that Madhavikutty was called Aami by her near ones and friends. So it is wrong to project it as a biopic using the late writer's pet name and then twisting facts," Ramachandran said, alluding to Kamal's newspaper interviews in which the director has said he has exercised his cinematic liberties in scripting the movie.

Popular actress Manju Warrier essays the role of Kamala Das in the film.

Kamal told this correspondent that it was ridiculous to think that a writer like Madhavikutty would be so gullible to fall for the guiles of anyone trying to convert her.

"It is an outright insult to assume Madhavikutty converted because of some allurement," Kamal said.

"First of all, only me and my crew have seen the film besides the censor board. So I don't know on what basis the petitioner has made such allegations about a movie that he has not seen," said Kamal, one of the most popular and highly respected Malayalam filmmakers.

But he conceded that the film was a "biopic based on fictional adaptation".

Ramachandran has attached to the petition pages from The Love Queen of Malabar by Madhavikutty's friend Merrily Weisbord, who wrote that the poet yearned to return to Hinduism.

The petition cites Weisbord's book to allege that Samadani had feigned love to convert the writer.

Calls to Samadani's cellphone went unanswered.