Even as the film struggles of get distributers in India, people from all walks of life gathered at the screening of Ennu Swantham–Sreedharan (Yours Truly Sreedharan) that was held at Delhi’s Jawahar Bhawan on Friday. For the audience, the movie was a story about Kerala which “needs to be told”. For some, this was the “only story of the Kerala”.
Directed by Siddik Paravoor, the 90-minute film is the real-life tale of a Muslim woman, Zubeidaa, who brings up the three children of her domestic help — a Hindu — after her sudden demise. The Malayalam film has English subtitles. It moved many to tears inside the auditorium where the real Sreedharan, the favourite child of Zubeidaa, was also present.
The story went viral in 2019 when Mr. Sreedharan mourned through a FB post the death of his Umma (mother) Zubeidaa, stating that this indeed was the reality of Kerala’s generations of “religious and human” harmony. For Mr. Sreedharan, Zubeidaa was the only mother he knew as his real mother Chikki had left the world when he was just one. He and his two sisters were raised and given education by their Muslim foster mother and the three never faced any pressure or compulsion of converting to Islam.
Mr. Paravoor, who was inspired by the FB post to make the movie and stayed with the family to know more about them, was overwhelmed with the response to the film. He told The Hindu that even when it was released in January, he failed to find any distributors. He said most rejected the film due to its lack of a star cast.
“It’s a small budget movie and was made in just 40 lakh which too was crowd-funded by my relatives, friends and well-wishers. We are under debt as this money has to be returned. I feel sad that there are no takers for the ‘real Kerala story’ which talks about human emotions, unity and love,” Mr. Paravoor said.
The film was screened in collaboration with Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) and Janasamskriti (socio- cultural organisation) whose representatives told the audience that this is a film that is “beyond propaganda and shows the reality of India”.
“The making of this movie started in 2019, much before the propaganda film, The Kerala Story was imagined. This is the real Kerala story and that is why its screening was important to be held at the heart of the capital,” said V.K. Cherian, the moderator of the screening.
Nisha S., who watched the movie said it is “resistance against falsehoods and imaginary existence”. Indu Chandraskehra, who too saw the film with one of her friends, said that it was a story that was waiting to be told. “It touched my heart and made me cry even though I relied on subtitles,” she said.