A descendant of Pazhassi Raja points out some flaws in the recent film

Three years ago an award-winning director stepped into their house, Syamakrishna Vihar, atop a hill in Pazhassi in North Kerala's Kannur district. This was not the first time it had happened. For the past 70 years, they have had visitors – scholars, historians, researchers – who have come knocking on their doors for the story of their granduncle, the legendary Pazhassi Raja Kerala Varma. They now lead a quiet and unremarkable life unlike the time their legendary ancestor and freedom fighter ruffled feathers on the British crown.

They are members of the Pazhassi family, an offshoot of the Kottayam Kovilakam, the royal clan of a hamlet in Kannur.

When film director Hariharan came to asking the 90-year-old Shankara Varma, the present head of the family (a Carnatic musician and disciple of Chambai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar), for details on Pazhassi Raja, the local media went to town with it. The movie Pazhassi Raja, released recently, flaunts a glittering star cast.

Objections

But, the Pazhassi family has some objections to the film. According to Shankara Varma, there were historical discrepancies in the movie. There is very little of Kannur, Wayanad and Pazhassi in it, said Varma. These were places that witnessed Pazhassi Raja's valour. Ezhimala, where war strategies were laid out against the British, and the warrior's family shrine, the Pazhassi Madam temple, to which he was so attached, do not appear in the film at all, he said.

“The climax, too, isn't historically accurate,” held Varma. In the film, Pazhassi Raja dies after being shot at while the cause of his death remains a mystery, he said. Varma also complained that the movie made no reference whatsoever to the road that was constructed through the middle of Pazhassi palace by the British after Pazhassi Raja's death.

When contacted, Hariharan had this to say. “I am not interested in controversies. I referred eight or nine books before getting into this project.”

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