Writer Jeyamohan’s gripe about Manjummel Boys turns into outburst against Malayalis

Jeyamohan ends his tirade saying that it will be good if gangs like the one in Manjummel Boys get trapped and die sometimes, so that “our forests will be saved” and “it will be a punishment given by nature.”
B Jeyamohan
B JeyamohanCredit - CXPathi / Wiki Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
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Heavily derogatory remarks cloud a long commentary made by writer and critic B Jeyamohan about the much-celebrated Malayalam film Manjummel Boys and Malayalam cinema in general. Ridiculing the adulation received by Manjummel Boys in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, he writes that the film is nothing but a celebration of ‘porikkis’ (loafers), justifying their drunken deeds and normalising drug abuse. 

Jeyamohan, born to a Malayali family in Kanniyakumari, has mostly written in Tamil, and is known for his books Yaanai Doctor and Kaadu. He has also contributed to films, co-scripting the widely celebrated Ponniyin Selvan films and other popular movies like Kadal and 2.0. In Malayalam, he has scripted films like 1 by Two and Kaanchi.

His blog post about Manjummel Boys begins with a disclaimer that he does not review films since he too is part of the industry. But then Jeyamohan goes overboard with his criticism of not just Malayalam cinema, but the ‘wayward’ ways of Malayali tourists in Tamil Nadu, as they are depicted in Manjummel Boys. The film, based on a real life story, shows a few young men travelling to the ‘Guna’ Caves in Kodaikanal, where one of them slips and falls into a deep hole, and another dares to go in with the help of the police to try and save his friend. 

The men are shown having a fun time on their road trip, occasionally indulging in drinks. Jeyamohan says it caused him irritation to see the ‘mindset’ of such tourists who come to Tamil Nadu, go to the forests, “drink, blabber, disobey rules, and lack basic decency”. 

“At least 10 times, I have seen on the roads of Ooty, Kodaikanal, Kutralam, Malayali drunkard scoundrels fighting, throwing out liquor bottles, and travelling with vomit on the sides of their vehicles. They have proudly depicted this in the movie too,” Jeyamohan writes. His book Yaanai doctor (The Elephant Doctor), he says, was written as a reaction to seeing elephants die on the roads after getting pierced by the broken bottle shards. 

Yaanai Doctor by Jeyamohan
Yaanai Doctor by Jeyamohan

Repeatedly addressing such people as “porikkis”, Jeyamohan says that they do not know a single word in another language and insist that others should learn theirs. They ruin weddings and they ruin forests, he complains. They will only understand ‘beatings’, as shown in the film when the Tamil police beat some of the men. 

Jeyamohan looks down upon everyone who hails Malayalam cinema, which, according to him, always shows happiness as something people get when they drink and fight. Manjummel Boys is also showing that, making drinking and addiction socially acceptable through cinema, he laments. 

He goes on to allege that Ernakulam in particular is the centre of drug addiction, and even Malayalam heroes are caught in drug cases. Naming a few films like Kili Poi, Ozhivu Divasathe Kali, Vedi Vazhipaadu and Jallikattu, Jeyamohan says that such works, without any "sensibility", normalise drugs and sex work. 

Still from 'Jallikattu'
Still from 'Jallikattu'

"If Kerala has a government that cares for the welfare of its people, they should take action against such filmmakers," Jeyamohan says. He does not spare even the real life person on whom the main character in Manjummel Boys is based, saying that instead of giving him a national award for bravery, he should have been thrown in jail.

Taking it a notch further, Jeyamohan ends his harsh critique with the comment that it will be good if such gangs do get trapped (like in the movie) and die sometimes, then “our forests will be saved” and “it will be a punishment given by nature.”

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