Jithin Chacko was not yet born when Chacko, his father who used to work as a film representative, was murdered by Sukumara Kurup and his accomplices in 1984.
Though he had seen mediapersons coming into the household annually on the day of his father's death, it was not until he was 12 or 13 years old that the facts relating to the case would register in his head, Jithin tells The Hindu .
When he and his mother Santhamma heard about the film Kurup , with the absconding murderer Sukumara Kurup in the titular role, being made, they were apprehensive of whether the man who changed the family’s fate forever would be glorified as a hero.
“When we heard that a big star like Dulquer Salman was playing the hero, we were apprehensive. So, we sent a legal notice to the producers. They called us and screened the movie for us. Only I went. Unlike the impression conveyed by the trailer, we don't think the film would make people think positively of what he did. There are many things that we don't know about him that the film has added,” says Jithin.
Kurup is the third Malayalam movie being made based on the crime, after NH 47 directed by Baby in 1984 and Pinneyum directed by Adoor Gopalakrishnan in 2016. Jithin says none of the makers of these films have contacted the family prior to making their films.
“I was too young when NH 47 was released. Some people have told me that it shows the murder as it is. We heard about Pinneyum only recently. It seems Kurup and his family were treated sympathetically in that film. We can't understand how such films can be made without considering our family,” he says.
Sukumara Kurup, who had a well-paying job in Abu Dhabi, was inspired to stage his own death after hearing about an insurance fraud case in Germany.
He thought his family could claim a ₹50-lakh insurance policy if they could prove he was dead. On January 22, 1984, Sukumara Kurup and his accomplices were going around in a car looking for a victim with a similar physique, when Chacko hitched a ride from Karuvatta. Later that night, his charred body with a disfigured face was found in a burnt ambassador car in a farm near the Kollakadavu bridge in Kunnam, near Mavelikara.
“On hearing the news, my mother’s father died in shock, while my father’s mother was paralysed. My mother could not even see my father's body. I have not talked much with my mother regarding his death. I remember my mother telling me that officers like DSP Haridas used to come for investigation in those days, but then the investigation too stopped, even as Kurup remains absconding still. We don’t discuss these things much because it is too painful, but when the film was being made, we had to,” says Jithin.
After Chacko's death, his wife Santhamma used to work as a housekeeper at the W and C Hospital in Alappuzha, which helped her in bringing up Jithin, who now aged 37 works at a car showroom.