Moments after announcing a period film based on the historical character Variyankunnathu Kunjahammed Haji, director Aashiq Abu and actor Prithviraj Sukumaran had been facing a lot of flak, both for the decision to take a film on a controversial figure and for the choice of scriptwriter.
The film to be directed by Aashiq Abu and Muhsin Parari, is being scripted by Harshid and Ramees. Scriptwriter Ramees has since been accused of his regressive stands taken in the past, including a particularly derogatory post on actor Raai Laxmi in 2012. Ramees apologised for his earlier stances, which he said had since changed. However, there are more posts, especially with regard to his Islamist views, that the crew believes deserves more explanation.
Clearing the air, Aashiq Abu, director of famed films as 22 Female Kottayam and Maayanadhi, wrote on his Facebook page that Ramees and he didn't agree on their political views. "I do not agree with Ramees's political views. It is possible he too does not agree with mine. Discussions on producing the film Vaariyamkunnan with another director have been going on for years. I have come to know only three to four months ago that Ramees too has been there in the project since the beginning, and doing research for it," Aashiq wrote.
But once the film was announced, a lot of anger rose against asking a person with seemingly regressive views to write the script for a film based on the 1921 Malabar rebellion. The rebellion, a fight against the British, has been written off by the right wing as a communal fight where many Hindus died. Variyamkunnath, the man who led the rebellion and respected by many sections in Kerala as a freedom fighter who got shot down by the British, has been a figure who has been heavily debated.
"After the accusations on Ramees rose, an explanation was sought of him and he has admitted his mistakes in some cases and also apologised publicly on Facebook for it. He is responsible for convincing his trustworthiness both to the team and the society. Till then he would stay away from the project as a scriptwriter. The film will go forward," Aashiq wrote.
Ramees too made a Facebook post at the same time, revealing his decision to stay out of the project till he could prove his innocence. "I have come to realise some of my mistakes in the allegations against me and I have apologised for those. The other accusations are either misinterpretations from taking things out of context or else false campaigns. I can prove they are false," Ramees wrote.
But then the accusations against him have affected the film and that should not happen, he wrote. "So I wish to temporarily stay out of the project till I can prove my innocence."