Director Kamal’s ‘Celluloid’ has sparked off a controversy, a day after it walked away with top honours at the State Film Awards.
The filmmaker’s remarks in an interview that late Chief Minister K. Karunakaran and renowned writer and civil servant Malayatoor Ramakrishnan had roles in denying justice to J. C. Daniel by not recognising him as the father of Malayalam cinema sparked off protests on Saturday.
‘Celluloid’ was presented by Kamal as a tribute to J. C Daniel, who was the producer-director of the first Malayalam movie ‘Vigathakumaran’ released in 1930.
Kamal had pointed out in the interview that actor Siddique’s character in the film essayed Malayatoor Ramakrishnan and he deliberately avoided mentioning the names of Karunakaran and Malayatoor to avoid controversies.
Kamal clarified his stance on Saturday by saying he had never tried to portray Karunakaran and Malayatoor Ramakrishnan in bad light. “As a creative person, I have only tried to portray the facts recorded in the Life of J. C. Daniel, a biography written by film journalist Chelangat Gopalakrishnan and Nashta Nayika, a novel by Vinu Abraham in Malayalam based on which my movie was made. I also wonder why those protesting against ‘Celluloid’ had never raised their voice when these books were published,” he said.
But noted writer N. S. Madhavan reminded Kamal that he should have got the facts right as the movie was projected as a biopic on J. C. Daniel. “He should have done research before making such a movie. There is no mention of K. Karunakaran in the movie. The only mention is that of a CM and it was C. Achutha Menon who was the Chief Minister at that time. Kamal himself had said in an interview that Karunakaran and Malayatoor Ramakrishnan had denied justice to J. C. Daniel,” he said.
Pointing out that he was “sore about demonisation of Malayatoor, who was never cultural secretary of the State”, Mr. Madhavan said Kamal had every right to express his creative freedom provided it was a fictional work. “If it’s a biopic, it has to be accurate,” he said. Mr. Madhavan also pointed out that another person demonised in ‘Celluloid’ was Tamil actor P. U. Chinnappa, whose acting career ended in mid-40s. “P. U. Chinnappa is portrayed as a bad character in the movie. There are many other similar inaccuracies in the movie,” he said.
Explaining that Kamal stands exonerated by saying that his movie was based on Chelangat Gopalakrishnan’s book, D. Babu Paul, former Chief Secretary, recalled that Malayatoor Ramakrishnan had never served as cultural secretary during his entire career.
“The Cultural Department was even formed after his retirement. I am not questioning Kamal’s craft but the book contains several factual inaccuracies,” he said. Mr. Paul also reminded that he would not subscribe to the view that Karunakaran would deny justice to a person in the name of his caste.