Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Churuli sparks row on foul language in films

The film, which premiered during the IFFK in Kerala earlier this year, was released on SonyLIV on November 19.
Still from Churuli
Still from Churuli
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After Lijo Jose Pellissery's newest film Churuli came out on a streaming platform, there has been a lot of talk around the language of the film. Churuli, derived from a story written by Vinoy Thomas - Kaligeminarile Kuttavalikal, was adapted into a screenplay by S Hareesh for Lijo. The film, which premiered in Kerala during the International Film Festival of Kerala in February this year, got released on SonyLIV on November 19. Since then, viewers have been commenting about the amount of curse words used in Churuli, some taking offence at it while others defended the freedom of art. Even prime time channel discussions were held to debate about Churuli's choice of dialogue.

The film, dark and fantastical and humorous as most Lijo films are, shows the journey of two policemen - played by Chemban Vinod and Vinay Forrt -- into a place called Churuli, in search of a slippery criminal. They are going in disguise, finding their way into a tea shop as workers. But Churuli is not an ordinary place. The policemen get their first taste of Churuli's strange ways when the men who gave them a lift suddenly turn mean and full of abusive language as they cross a bridge. The polite smiles fade away and it is all rottenness from there.

From Jaffer Idukki, who plays the tea shop owner, to Joju George, who appears towards the end of the film, everyone in Churuli speaks and behaves in strange ways. Chemban plays Antony, the more adventurous of the two, excited easily by the night time hunts and the taste of rare meat. Vinay Forrt plays the more serious subordinate officer, wanting to quickly settle the business and get away from the place. But as the movie proceeds, the latter appears to fit more easily into the mysterious place.

When they are not speaking Malayalam, villagers of Churuli adopt another tongue, a language of their own. While some viewers wrote Facebook posts about not understanding anything about the film, others felt the language was too strong for a family audience. Clearly though, the film begins with the disclaimer that it is suited to those aged 18 or more.

Watch: Trailer of Churuli

Political parties too have come out against the film's use of curse words. Pro-BJP commentator Sreejith Panickar alleged that the makers had used such language deliberately to get attention. He spoke of lack of censorship on OTT platforms and how filmmakers should instead use their common sense to take a call on what to include and not. Meanwhile, Youth Congress has also criticised the film for using abusive language. Congress leader Adv Johnson Abraham has shot off a letter to the Chief Minister and the Director General of Police, alleging that the language used in the film is part of a 'goon culture', taking a dig at Joju George, the actor with whom the party has had a row recently.

Director Jeo Baby, writer PF Mathews and others have spoken to The Cue in defence of Churuli, essentially an art form drawing its inspiration from the world around one. 

Lijo Jose, known for his experimental movies, is the maker of such films as Ee Ma Yaw where a son wanders in the darkness of a night to arrange a decent burial for his dad, Angamaly Diaries that became a debut of 86 new actors and Jallikattu, which in his own words, is all about the conflict of man and animal. 

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