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Pazhassi Raja recreates history

We have seen many historical movies in the history of cinema, accurately portraying the historical events or biography of famous personalities. Troy, The Passion of Christ, Alexander, Gladiator, 300, Gandhi, Titanic, Pearl Harbor and Ambedkar were all attempts show on celluloid history available to the professional historians.

One of the best things about these movies is that they are far more successful in kindling interest in the so-called 'boring history' among the general public. Pazhassi Raja, which is being directed by ace director Hariharan with superstar Mammootty in the lead, is also a biopic magnum opus historical film about Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja, popularly known as the Lion of Kerala, who was a king in the 18th century from the Kottayam royal family.

The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 is considered to be the first organized revolt against British rule in the history of India's struggle for independence. But more than half a century prior to this mutiny, Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja of the Padinjare Kovilakom of the Kottayam family near Thalassery in Kannur district, headed an attack against the British rule when the Britishers imposed an unpopular revenue policy in Malabar. Consequently, the British rulers made a futile attempt to capture the Raja in his own palace at Pazhassi in April 1796. The British company then made proclamations which forbade people from supporting the Raja, threatening to confiscate the property of all who supported Pazhassi.

In 1797, the Raja's men launched an attack on the security personnel stationed at Pazhassi and were able to overpower the British forces, using swords, spears, bows and arrows. With an army of thousands of Nairs, Pazhassi inflicted defeat on the British who were forced to retreat and later returned to negotiate. Later, the British signed a temporary armistice, in accordance with Raja's wishes.

Pazhassi Raja once again revolted against the British when they decided to take over Wynad in 1799, after the fall of Srirangapatnam. However, the British had an upper hand this time as they controlled most of the South. They confiscated the Raja's properties and proclaimed a reward for capturing him. Raja fled from his palace and took refuge in the jungle, accompanied by his wife and immediate attendants.

At the same time, he kept the British on tenterhooks for a long time using guerrilla tactics and informers. But on November 30 1805, the Raja was surrounded by the troops of Thomas Harvey Babar (a young British officer who was given charge of suppressing Pazhassi) and was shot dead in an operation on the banks of Mavila Thodu.

Mammootty who played the hero in Hariharan's previous historical venture, Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha, plays the title role in Pazhassi Raja too. Suman plays the villain, Pazhaiveetan Chandu and Tamil actor Sarathkumar plays Edachena Kunkan, the chief lieutenant of Pazhassi Raja. The film features three heroines: Padmapriya, Kanika Subramaniam and Linda Arsenio.

The movie which was in the making since May last year, is produced by Gokulam Gopalan. Most of the important scenes are shot with four cameras simultaneously. The movie is touted to have the biggest-ever budget for a Malayalam movie (rumoured to be more than eight crores). Venu cranks the camera; music genius Ilayaraja provides music for songs penned by O.N.V. Kurup. The film is to hit screens during Christmas.

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