The famed Malayalam director Kamaluddin Muhammad’s new movie Aami based on the life of internationally-known Indian poetess Kamala Das Surayya (d. 2009) is still facing threats from the Hindutva supporters of the ruling BJP party.
Last month Kerala BJP leader Radhakrishnan had asked Kamal to leave India after he spoke in support of delegates who chose not to stand in cinema hall during playing of Indian national anthem.
First Kamal signed Bollywood’s sex symbol Vidya Balan to play Kamala Das’ role in the movie. But five days before the shooting she back down from the agreement under pressure from Hindu communal groups. She was advised by her Bollywood sponsors that playing the part of a Hindu celebrity who converted to Islam would ruin her film career.
Kamal then signed a Malayalam actress, Manju Warrier, for the role but she too has become the target of Hindutva Mafia. She has received hundreds of threats on her Facebook page to quit the project. Manju has so far resisted the criticism, saying: “I’m thrilled to do the role and shooting will start next month. Thank God for selecting me for the role,” Manju told India Today newspaper.
Kamal was planning to make a film on Kamala Das for a long time and it was only after talking to Kamala’s friends and family and reading her works that he was able to work on the film script.
“It would be a different movie that portrays the writing and life of the legendary writer and poet,” Kamal told media.
What Kamala Das, who belonged to upper Hindu caste, told an interviewer after she converted to Islam at age 65 in 1999 – is coming true and happening to any Hindu actress who dare to play Das’ role in the movie Aami.
“Islam is the religion of love. Hindus have abused and hurt me. They have often tried to scandalize me. I want to love and be loved,” she said.
Das’ life was threatened and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (BJP’s ally) took her to court for insulting Hinduism for naming Hindu God Krishna’s idol Muhammad in her family temple Guruvayur.
You can enjoy one of Kamala Das’ own stories here.