INTERVIEW

‘This is not a PR stunt’: ‘Oru Adaar Love’ producer on the row over ‘Manikya Malaraya Poovi’

A case has been filed against the song, featuring Priya Varrier, alleging it hurts religious sentiments.

The upcoming Malayalam film Oru Adaar Love has dominated the news cycle for close to a fortnight. It began on February 9, when a video of the song Manikya Malaraya Poovi went viral and debutante Priya Prakash Varrier became an internet sensation. Days later, the song became the subject of a police case and multiple complaints. Dissenters allege that the song’s images, depicting school students exchanging flirtatious glances across a crowded auditorium, hurts religious sentiments. The song is originally a Mapila pattu, a folk tradition of Kerala’s Malabar Muslims, and narrates the love story of Prophet Muhammad and his first wife, Khadija.

The matter has reached the Supreme Court, which on Wednesday stayed all criminal proceedings in the case. The makers had moved court to get the case thrown out, saying the complaints violate their freedom of speech and expression as well as their right to life and liberty. Oru Adaar Love producer Ousepachan Vaalakuzhy, who is one of the petitioners, spoke to Scroll.in about the controversy.

Ever since the song ‘Manikya Malaraya Poovi’ came out, not a day has gone by that it hasn’t been in the news.
The song has obviously been a huge hit. So has the film’s teaser. People like it a lot. On social media, especially Facebook, it has been shared hundreds of millions of times. People have helped make it viral. But of course, certain people have a problem with it and they have filed a case against us.

You’ve now filed a counter case. Yet again, the film has been given more publicity. You could argue that this is a PR strategy.
This is not a PR stunt. We don’t need this kind of advertising. Malayalis the world over have made this song successful. People around the world – in the UK, UAE – are watching Manikya Malaraya Poovi and talking about it on different platforms. It’s gone viral all by itself. We didn’t go out of our way to seek publicity nor do we want negative publicity.

Play
Manikya Malaraya Poovi.

Why did you file a petition against the case that wants the song to be taken out of the film?
The film’s director, Omar Lulu, actress Priya Varrier and I have filed the petition. This is a song that was first written in 1978. It already exists. It’s a love song about the Prophet Muhammad and his wife Khadeeja Beevi. The lyrics are beautiful and [their translation] goes like this:

“She bloomed like a precious flower
In the sacred land of Mecca
Great Khadeeja Beevi
Was roaming in the sacred land
The lady roaming
She called for the respected lord, Prophet
And send him for trade
She saw him and coveted him in heart of hearts
She came back after trade
And she sought the hand
That sought her hand”  

But the problem is that when you put the Malayalam lyrics in Google or any other translation app, it comes up with stuff that may be inaccurate or misunderstood. No one in Kerala has a problem with it. It is people in other non-Malayalam speaking states like Telangana and Maharashtra who have filed these cases. They want the song taken out of the film. We feel this is illegal, unwarranted, excessive and unjustified.

You’ve been in the Malayalam film industry for a long time and you’re a respected producer. Do you think controversy makes a film more successful?
I’ve been in the industry about 34 years now and I’ve made 16 films. And I’m still here and working. If a film is good, people will watch it. You can create as much controversy as you want but it people will watch it only if it’s worthwhile. Never otherwise.

Ousepachan Vaalakuzhy.
Ousepachan Vaalakuzhy.
Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

Play

Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.