Sukumara Kuruppu, Dulquer Salman and the unsung ‘Chacko’ (may his soul rest in peace)

So we hear that director Srinath Rajendran of Second Show fame is returning to the fold of Dulquer Salman (or vice versa) for a movie on the life and times of Sukumara Kuruppu, a man who earned notoriety on charges of a cold-blooded murder.

While his accomplices have been arrested, the man himself remains elusive.

Well, in a country where a man in the statute of Justice Karnan can go into hiding for weeks together, what can a man not do, having committed the said crime much before today’s cyber-age.

Maybe Kuruppu did plastic surgery and he is living right under the nose of the belligerent police officers of Kerala or perhaps he is roaming around somewhere in the Arabian Gulf.

Just as news of Dulquer playing Kuruppu broke, out started the outpouring of ‘Sukumara Kuruppu’ stories. The online portal The News Minute had two stories to feed in.

Yes, there is enigma in the man, no doubt. How could he have gotten away and stayed out of the police net for so long and so well?

A screen grab of a story in Deccan Chronicle that shows Chacko and Kuruppu

But when Srinath Rajendran says he indeed is planning a retelling of the Kuruppu story, and that he plans to make a film ‘with an epic nature,’ (sic) and that he wants to tell the unexplored side, and that we must all approach the film without prejudices, I can only mutter… ‘humbug!’

Artistic liberty, interpretation and all that is fine- but what new perspective do you want us to know about a ‘criminal?’

That he innocently killed? That he had a backstory to substantiate the killing?

What more does he want to say that Baby did not say in NH47, the first film based on the incident — and a pathetic one at that — in which TG Ravi plays the villain.

And what intellectual dimension does he want to bring that Adoor Gopalakrishnan, the thespian of Malayalam cinema, did not bring in Pinneyum, which was cited as ‘disappointing fare?

Cinematic glorification of crime is not new to Malayalam or in world cinema. We are told it is the ‘other side.’

And no one is challenging Srinath, Dulquer et al’s aspiration to retell a brutal story; maybe they really have surprises in store.

When Srinath says he wants to tell the story from a side that ‘Malayalis do not know,’ we can only assume he has done some intense research, had access to private investigation files or spoke to some of Kuruppu’s kin or kith.

But do I want to know about the ‘other side?’ Well, am not sure.

Srinath is a gifted filmmaker so perhaps there is a chance he might really pull off a surprise.

But pity Chacko, the film representative, who was killed!

Much like in his life, when he had to drag around film reels, even in his death, he lies buried under the weight of cinema… and this time, even more so, under the infame of his murderer, now being studied by the ‘new generation’ as if he was some social reformer..

In choosing TG Ravi as the culprit in the first cinematic telling, there was no ambiguity.

But the same cannot be said when Dulquer plays Kuruppu.

Kuruppu is not a Chanthu for a reverse-sweep dissection of his life.

He is at best a criminal, as proven by the court of law.

And if in doing the role, Dulquer presents the perception of ‘innocence’ and an ‘other side’ to Kuruppu, well… guess we need to digest that too in the name of art.

I believe there is the possibility that Dulquer might do two roles — after all, Kuruppu and Chacko apparently had a resemblance, or so thought Kuruppu in choosing the hapless man as his victim.

That could be the easy way to play villain and victim and not torpedo the actor’s carefully orchestrated ‘image.’

But, Chacko, rest in peace.

These people know what they are doing. And that has nothing to do with you!

It is all in the name of art and cinema. The industry you hauled around has changed, Chacko.