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Karunakaran's image cannot be sullied: Muraleedharan

Posted on Feb 23, 04:39PM | IANS

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 23 : Each time the state film awards are announced in Kerala, a round of controversy follows. This time is no different, and former chief minister K. Karunakaran's name has been dragged into the controversy.

Less than 24 hours after the awards were announced, Karunakaran's son K. Muraleedharan lashed out at Kamal, director of "Celluloid," which won the best film award this time.

"Even if a 1,000 Kamals come along, the image of Karunakaran cannot be sullied. It's unfortunate that for the sake of cheap publicity for his film, the director has dragged the name of Karunakaran right into his project. Karunakaran always wanted the Malayalam film industry to thrive," a peeved Muraleedharan told reporters.

"Celluloid," the film which won seven state awards this year, including the best film and best actor awards, is a period film about the Father of Malayalam Cinema, J.C. Daniel, who produced, directed, wrote, photographed, edited and acted in the first film made in Kerala, "Vigathakumaran" (The Lost Child), in 1928.

"Celluloid" makes an indirect reference to Karunakaran, three-time chief minister of the state who died, aged 92, in Dec 2010. The film also refers to then senior IAS official Malayatoor Ramakrishnan. Both the men are depicted as having treated Daniel with contempt in the mid-1970s.

"Kamal is certainly a very good filmmaker, but he did what he ought not to have, for the sake of cheap publicity," Muraleedharan said.

Speaking to the media, Kamal said: "Yes, it's right that both Karunakaran (as culture minister of the state) and Ramakrishnan (who served as culture secretary) were unable to do justice to Daniel. That is well known."

Cinema minister of the state and former actor K.B. Ganesh Kumar added his mite to the controversy: "In the film on Gandhi, Britishers are shown as villains. To have some drama, certain inputs are needed in a film. This matter has to be seen in that light."

The Kerala government, in 1992, honoured Daniel by instituting the J.C. Daniel Award as part of the Kerala State Film Awards to honour lifetime achievement in Malayalam cinema.

As "Celluloid" hits the screens, it remains to be seen if even more Congressmen will come forward in stout defence of Karunakaran.