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The Jolly murders: Race to announce film on Kerala serial killings

Aashirvad Cinemas has titled the upcoming project Koodathayi

By K.M. Rakesh in Bangalore
  • Published 10.10.19, 6:04 AM
  • Updated 10.10.19, 6:28 AM
  • 2 mins read
Malayalam superstar Mohanlal will play the lead role of the police officer who cracks the serial murders Wikimedia Commons

Grisly serial murders in one family committed over 14 years in Kerala and cracked last week have spawned two film announcements — one involving a superstar — and a battle over their titles.

Malayalam superstar Mohanlal will play the lead role of the police officer who cracks the serial murders, a Kerala daily reported on Wednesday. Hours later, an upcoming actress declared on social media that she had been the first to announce a film on the theme and that the two films had the same title.

Aashirvad Cinemas, a premier film production house that produces all of Mohanlal’s films, has titled the upcoming project Koodathayi, after the Kozhikode village where a homemaker named Jolly has admitted to poisoning six family members, including her first husband and his parents.

However, after the Malayala Manorama published the news article on Mohanlal’s film, upcoming actress Dini Daniel said she had already launched a woman-centric film with the same title in which she would play the lead role of Dolly, based on Jolly’s character.

Dini took to Facebook to express concern about the clash over the title.

“Officially started work on Koodathayi film on 8.10.2019. Had released the poster on Facebook yesterday itself. Shocked to see this story in Malayala Manorama this morning. What next?” Dini posted on Wednesday morning, uploading a picture of her film’s poster, which she had released around 1am, alongside the news report about Mohanlal’s film.

The first-look poster says “Dini Daniel in & as Dolly in Koodathayi”.

Manoharan K. Payyannur, finance manager of Aashirvad Cinemas, told The Telegraph that his company had got the title registered, a prerequisite for all movies. “We have no issues if someone wants to make a film on the same subject. But since we have already registered this title, no one can use the same title,” he said.

“It’s another matter if someone uses the subject and writes a different script for another film. But this title is ours and no one can use that.”

Manoharan said the names of the scriptwriter and director would be announced next week and the filming would start before March next year.

Dini did not respond to this newspaper’s request for comments.

Six members of one family in Koodathayi, a small village in Kozhikode district, were allegedly poisoned to death with potassium cyanide.

Jolly, 47, was arrested last week after a two-month investigation based on a police complaint from the brother of her first husband, Roy Thomas, who was one of her victims.

During the interrogation before her arrest, Jolly is said to have confessed to killing all the six by poisoning their food with cyanide she had sourced from her friend Mathew who worked at a jewellery shop. Mathew had allegedly obtained the chemical from Prajukumar, a goldsmith. Both of them have been arrested along with Jolly.

Between 2002 and 2016, Jolly allegedly killed her mother-in-law Annamma Thomas, father-in-law Tom Thomas, husband Roy Thomas, Annamma’s brother M.M. Mathew, and Roy’s cousin Sily and her infant daughter. The prima facie motive for the murders appears to be property.

Jolly later married Sily’s widower Shaju Zakariah.