In his new film Veeraputhran, director P T Kunhi Mohammed tries to resurrect the legend of freedom fighter Mohammed Abdul Rahiman, who was relegated to the footnotes of history by colonial historians. The young Muslim leader of Malabar rose to prominence in 1921 and died at the age of 48, in 1945, under suspicious circumstances.
Narain plays the lead character in P T Kunhi Mohammed's screenplay which takes the easy route of flashbacks. Sarath Kumar is seen as an academician in a cameo prompting his students to help him research the life of the freedom fighter by giving them a brief account of his life and times. Numerous poets and writers have been inspired by him and based their creations on him.
The story depicts the young leader's political progress interspersed with his tragic personal life where he is shown as a young widower who refused to marry again as he was so deeply in love with his first wife Kunji Beevathu (Raima Sen). He even carries one of her saris in his luggage in her memory.
Mohammed Abdul Rahiman is shown as a lover of animals and birds (we have a digitally generated deer and a few birds to underscore this), though he uses a tiger skin as a blanket. These details are given prominence over the political events.
So, from the KPCC convention in 1921, to suffering brutalities at
the hands of the police in the various jails of South India and fighting for the rights of political prisoners, events tend to move in a jiffy. Rahiman makes his followers take the path of Gandhian non-violence and sets up the Al-Ameen newspaper in the Malabar to propagate his views. He refuses to join the leftists because of his faith but unconditionally agrees to print the communist manifesto in his press. In the end, he fights against the partition of the country on religious basis.
There is a mention of Mohammed Abdul Rahiman meeting Subash Chandra Bose in Delhi before the latter left for Japan. But the actual meeting seems to be sacrificed at the editing table.
The director has said the film is merely based on the story of N P Mohammed to deflect any criticism that it's not an authentic portrayal of the freedom fighter.
Overall, Veeraputhran doesn't evoke the sort of emotions expected of a patriotic film, owing largely to the fact that the main lead, Narain, does not have a powerful personality. Moreover, his appearance does not change in the 25-year time-frame of the film.
The presence of Raima Sen is utilised well as she is part of a sensual song picturised on the lead pair, which may help to sell a few tickets.
The supporting cast, including actors Kalabavan Mani and Siddique, play their parts well.
Veeraputhran may have been made with noble intentions, but it lacks the emotional resonance of the director's previous works.